Happy Mother's Day to Our Caregivers and Today's Babies Who Will Live to be age 110+

Today we celebrate Mother's Day and those caregivers who are finding themselves caring for their Mothers and dealing with the transition of perhaps now playing the role of Mother to their own Mom.  Happy Mother's Day to you, however you may have entered into the position!

Motherhood will continue to evolve as the latest news shows a baby born today will have a very good chance of living to be 110-years-old and more than half will surpass age 100.  Living for a century will no longer be rare.  Scientists at the University of California are studying how to prolong life and crossing the bridge into this new territory that ignites emotions and moral questions.

Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, is one Venture Capitalist financing the research into how to prolong life.  He sees death as a problem we may be able to solve.  However, this type of scientific research is still considered on the fringe of science and includes growing new organs for human stem cells, creating body parts and using gene therapy to treat hereditary diseases.

Mothers may soon be able to know that they can easily give birth later in life......we are already accepting of surrogates for women who are unable to carry a baby and so it may not be too far off to accept a surrogate simply because a women in her 50's decides she is ready to be a Mother.  If you are going to live to be 150, which of those 18 years do you want to stay homebound while rearing a child? Do you want wisdom or physical energy for Motherhood?

There will be much to debate as our society confronts a longer lifespan. If my great-grandmother lived to be 101-years-old and was born before there were airplanes and automobiles, it is natural to accept that soon grandparents will be living past 110. We know how to eat a healthy diet and keep our minds and bodies active to enjoy healthy aging.  We have medications and surgeries such as hip-replacements to replace our worn out parts.  I could live to be 110 and so could all of my friends.  Which also means more years living in Assisted Living communities, most likely, and more years needing a senior caregiver.  

Back in the year 1850, the average human lifespan was 43 years.  Now the average lifespan is around age 80.  And that is "average".  More and more of our mothers will definitely be living past the 100-year mark.

One researcher has organized the realities of living longer in this book, "100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith," by Sonia Arrison.  She shares that some babies born today may be able to live to be 150 years old.

Enjoy your time being a caregiver to your Mom today, or to someone who is like a mother to you. 

Scooter Store Files Bankruptcy But Will Stay In Business

The Scooter Store will stay in business, it turns out, after pushing hard for seniors to qualify for power wheelchairs and admitting to fraudulent claims.  The Scooter Store continued to operate and continued to push the envelope for "approval" of the medical need for a power wheelchair for seniors, resulting in a raid by federal agents in February of this year.  

Now The Scooter Store blames their former management team for improper business practices (such as requiring their representatives to keep calling new doctors if the first medical doctor turned down an approval for the need for a power wheelchair for a senior).  They went as far as to color-code medical doctors based on how easy or difficult it would be to convince the doctor to approve a senior for a power wheelchair. 

Medicare changed their reimbursements for power wheelchairs to be more in line with what is fair and reasonable and charged in the private sector.  This results in a monthly rental of the power wheelchairs instead of an upfront payment.  Formerly, Medicare payments were in the thousands and The Scooter Store made as much as $5000 or more in profits for each power wheelchair they sold a senior.  In addition, Medicare even created a new category for power wheelchairs to make sure scooters were not substituted, all because of The Scooter Store's fraudulent business practices.

It is interesting The Scooter Store never stepped to the plate to assist the government in ways to innovate and save more money.  Instead they wanted to make a quick buck and profit as much as they could from a program that was meant to truly help those who had lost mobility.

Last year, an independent auditor found The Scooter Store received from Medicare between $46.8 million and $87.7 million in overpayments from May 2009 to May 2011.  The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Health & Human Services Department found The Scooter Store's failure to refund the overpayments breached a 2007 agreement entered into to settle charges that it made false Medicare claims and defrauded the government.

Court documents show The Scooter Store wants to sell substantially all of its assets by the end of July but continue to operate on a diminished basis.

Find a local medical supplier if you truly need a power wheelchair.  Remember, many physical exercises can assist with mobility issues and if a serious medical condition prevents mobility, then certainly a senior's medical doctor will recommend and write an approval for a power wheelchair.  It is important to have a local trusted company fit you for the power wheelchair.  I once had a senior client who required more than 4 visits by the medical equipment company to assist with her power wheelchair adjustments.  The company even removed a door for her and assisted with rug placement and rearranging furniture.  Since Medicare is paying for this service, use a company that can visit your home and assist with all the adjustments.

Here is one of The Scooter Store's mailings which shows they were really trying to get any senior they could to tap into qualifications for a power wheelchair which they were promoting as a "scooter".

 If you are able to buzz around in a scooter, you are not going to have a serious enough medical condition to qualify for a power wheelchair.  Medicare made this distinction very clear to prohibit this type of fraud the first time they sued The Scooter Store.  Yet The Scooter Store continued to try to push sales as you can see in this mailing.  All seniors and caregivers can alert The Inspector General's office when they see something that may appear as Medicare fraud by trying to profit from Medicare or know that there are improper needs assessments. 


Midwest Caregivers Challenged by March Snowstorm

Caregiving presents so many challenges - both emotionally and physically - and today throughout the Midwest, just when everyone thought winter weather was behind us, a blizzard has hit Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and is on the way to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

Caregiverlist wishes safe travels to all the caregivers and if you are safely at home, you can read the latest senior care news, take an online caregiver certification course and research Certified Nursing Aide schools in your area or just refer-a-friend to be a senior caregiver as employment opportunities in caregiving continue to grow and more caregivers and C.N.A.'s are needed.  And especially in a snow storm, when long-distance family members need assistance in checking in on their senior loved ones.

You may also find information on how to contact your local Area Agency on Aging for senior care services, should you have a senior loved one who needs additional care services or find a senior home care agency.



Meals on Wheels Chicago Casino Night Fundraiser March 8th, 2013

Meals on Wheels brings nutritious meals directly to the doors of seniors in most cities of the U.S.A. and is one of my favorite charities because I have witnessed first hand the positive difference the service makes for seniors.

Seniors who chose to age-in-place in their own homes sometimes will be challenged by isolation from the rest of the world.  Social interactions are one of the components for health aging.  In addition to providing a healthy meal for seniors who may not be able to get out of their homes easily, the Meals on Wheels program allows seniors to have interaction with another person each day.  Seniors may "donate" money towards the meal and low-income seniors also may receive the meals at no charge as long as they qualify.

Meals on Wheels assists family members to make sure their senior loved one receives healthy meals regularly and assures a senior they will have a meal in their home, even when physical challenges prevent them from going to the grocery store.

Senior caregivers can find Meals on Wheels programs in their area through their local Area Agency on Aging.  Another service which must be paid for privately, called Mom's Meals, will deliver health meals matching dietary requirements to homes nationwide.

Chicago Meals on Wheels hosts a fundraiser on Friday.  Join in and have some fun while raising money for the Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels Chicago King of the River Casino Night

7th Annual Texas Hold'Em Tournament

Date:  Friday, March 8th, 2013

Time:  6:30 p.m. to Midnight

Place:  Chicago Cultural Center (across from Millenium Park), 78 E. Washington Street

Enjoy cocktails, gourmet fare, casino games and DJ Lani Love

Purchase Tickets

Sounds like this will be a fun event for seniors, caregivers and all of us who will someday be a senior!



Makers: Women Who Make America Airs Tonight on PBS

Caregivers for seniors have many varied background but tonight's PBS programming focuses on women who make America and as the majority of senior caregivers are women (both professional and family caregivers).  Usually the oldest daughter in a family takes the role as caregiver and definitely the majority of professional senior caregivers are women.  Men are welcome, definitely, but in honor of the reality, we wanted to promote Makers: Women Who Make America airing on PBS at 7 p.m. tonight.

Lilly Ledbetter paved the way for equal pay for women which all professional senior caregivers can appreciate and Maria Shriver's foundation has highlighted Alzheimer's disease and promoted more research dollars to be devoted to finding a cure for Alzheimer's.  Cancer survivor and entrepreneur Diem Brown is also profiled - she started MedGift to allow those with illnesses to receive what they really need from friends and families.  MedGift works just like a baby or bridal gift registry and makes it a little more seamless to give and receive for those who are struggling with the challenges of illness.

Tune in to PBS tonight for inspiring stories and to learn a little history about female innovators in the U.S.A. You may also view the Maker's videos on the documentary website.



Veteran's Aid and Attendance Benefit: What Caregivers Need to Know

Veteran's of America's wars definitely deserve to be cared for in their senior years, and one of the benefits of being a veteran is having senior care benefits for care in your home for both the veteran and the veteran's spouse.  This benefit is called:  Veteran's Aid and Attendance or VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.  Never heard of it?  You aren't the only one but here are the details of this benefit program and how a veteran can qualify.

The Department of Veteran's Affairs offers the Aid and Attendance Benefit to help cover the increasing senior care costs for veterans of America's wars and their surviving spouses.


V.A. Aid and Attendance Benefit Basic Requirements for Approval

1. The Veteran must have served at least 1 day of active duty during wartime (review approved war dates).

2. The Veteran or surviving spouse must need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) which must be confirmed and authorized by a physician.

3. Financial requirements must be met which include having under $80,000 in total assets (excluding one home and one car).

This benefit can be approved to provide up to $1703 per month for a Veteran and upt  o $1064 for a Surviving spouse to supplement the cost of senior care needs and medical costs.

The Veteran's Aid and Attendance Benefit, once approved, can be life changing for those in need bu the application process is lengthy and difficult to complete.  There are resources available to help expedite the application process ot ensure your loved one receives the benefit they or their souses fought so hard for by serving in a war.

Working with a V.A. Accredited Claims Agent is a good way to make sure your application is submitted correctly.  An accredited claims agent is able to contact the V.A. directly regarding the application and it's status.  Only the applicant (the Veteran or their spouse) is able to inquire about their application and even then, reaching the right channels can prove challenging.

Following is a quote from an accredited claim's agent.  She and her team of accredited agents have had hundreds of applications approved in record time.

"Many people are surprised to learn of this great government benefit, which provides a monthly award to war-time veterans and their surviving spouses. This tax-free benefit has given many elders the opportunity to age-in-place and afford the care they require.  Many have benefited from this generous support and avoided unnecessary nursing home placement.  I strongly suggest that all advocates for war-time veterans and their surviving spouses, in need of financial assistance, look into this benefit." says Katrina Spooner, the V.A. Accredited Claims Agent with The Cameron Group.

Once approved for senior care and the V.A. Aid and Attendance benefit, a veteran will receive a Care Plan and payments will be made to a licensed senior home care agency.  You may begin the process for approval by contacting your medical doctor or a licensed senior home care agency in your area and request senior care.


Guest Blogger:  Lauren Tyner, Caregiverlist Sherpa and a former senior care case manager for a Geriatric Care Manager in Florida. 


Senior-Proofing the Home

Aging in place is an option more in the senior population want to pursue. There’s no place quite so comfortable as one’s own home and community. However, according to AARP, nearly one-third of all Americans over 65 experiences a fall in the home. There are other safety issues that make staying in the home a challenge and the initial accident prevention costs might be off-putting. But in the long run, the costs can be far less to stay home and renovate than to move into Assisted Living.

Senior-proofing the home is much like childproofing the home. Both encourage you to do a room-by-room assessment of potential and hidden hazards. Both take into account the physical limitations their subjects may encounter. And in both instances, safety in independence is key. But do everyone a favor and, for the senior crowd, don’t lock the toilet seat.

Elder home-proofing suggestions abound on the internet, but the most thorough and comprehensive guide to home safety I’ve found comes to us from our friends at AARP. Their AARP Home Fit Guide goes into great depth discussing home livability, home safety and home maintenance to help keep the estimated 83% of seniors who would like to, age at home.

Fall prevention is a huge concern when it comes to seniors living alone. Getting rid of scatter or throw rugs throughout the home, lighting dim passageways, installing shower and toilet grab bars, keeping passageways clear of clutter and wiring, all contribute to fall prevention in the home.  If your home needs renovation, contact your state’s Department on Aging for information on available senior home modification services.

Senior safety is addressed outside the home as well as in. Make sure medication dosages are kept current. Visit the eye doctor to gauge general as well as peripheral vision.

Owning a good Medical Alert System, as we’ve written before, is vital. In addition to providing real help in case of an accident or fall, simply possessing such a device can contribute to peace of mind for older adults who live alone.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) can be brought to the home to conduct a full assessment to help maximize an accessible living environment. Also, look for a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders to help with recommending home modifications to help age in place.

Taking preventative steps such as these, along with the help of a family or professional caregiver, can go a long way to help an independent lifestyle a viable senior option.

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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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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