Medicare Senior Caregivers

This is a question which constantly comes up when a senior needs care services:  Does Medicare pay for a caregiver to provide senior care services in the home?

The reason there is much confusion around this is because Medicare will sometimes pay for what is called "skilled care", provided by a Registered Nurse (RN), Physical Therapist (PT), Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech Therapist (ST).  And Medicare will provide these skilled care providers to visit a senior in their home.  A doctor must approve and prescribe the services and for the care to continue, the senior must show improvement (the idea is that this is short-term therapy to improve a condition, especially after a stroke or hip replacement, for example).

The services may be for as many as 3 visits per week but usually a R.N. is only approved if there is an open wound or medications such as shots must be managed and performed by a R.N.

Medicare's skilled home care does not provide for a Certified Nursing Aide or Companion Caregiver.  These services must be paid for privately or through long-term care insurance, unless a senior has started hospice care, which can provide for a Certified Nursing Aide to visit. , ,

Hiring a Caregiver

When a senior needs extra assistance with their care, because of memory loss, an age-related illness or mobility issues, it becomes necessary to evaluate the best way to provide for the care needs.

The senior care industry refers to these basic care needs as "Activities of Daily Living".  This includes assisting with walking, bathing, toileting and meals.  Nursing Aides and Home Health Aides (each state sets requirements for certification for nursing assistants) are trained to properly provide for senior care needs.  Certification classes usually take 4 to 8 weeks (depending on if it is a part-time or full-time program).  Nursing facilities and hospitals are usually required to have a minimum level of certified nursing assistants on staff based on the number of residents and patients.  Senior Home Care Agencies may staff companion caregivers, as well as nursing aides, depending on the care needs of the senior.

It is important to consider the toll caregiving will take on a spouse or relative.  The physical work required can be substantial and when this is combined with the need to interact with a loved one as a caregiver, the relative can quickly become exhausted and sometimes even depressed.  This is because they are most likely missing out on many of their own daily activities which they now no longer have the time to enjoy.

Many families have told me that hiring a professional caregiver was the best decision they ever made.  The cost is really minimal when you consider that it will allow relatives to spend quality time with their loved one.  Many times the health of a spouse who is performing the duties of caregiving will also decline significantly.  Caregiving is not easy work.  However, it is a little easier when the person performing the care is not a relative or friend and is able to come to work refreshed and leave to go back to their own life.

Caregiverlist does provide quality standards for Senior Home Care Agencies who provide information on their rates and services for our users and you can learn more about the benefits of hiring a senior home care agency from our home page.

, ,

January Unemployment at 7.6% but not for Caregivers

Although the unemployment rate for January has been reported as 7.6%, the good news is that jobs actually increased in the healthcare industry. 

Medicare does not provide for longterm care in a nursing home and because of this, more and more seniors are making the decision to receive one-to-one care by their own professionally managed caregiver at home, rather than rehabilitating from a stroke or hip replacement in a nursing center which may often only provide one nursing aide for every 12 to 15 senior patients.  This prevents the aid from being able to adequately interact and motivate each elderly patient adequately, especially if one patient has a mishap which requires more time. 

In fact, staffing is sometimes inadequate enough in many nursing homes that even those seniors who are rehabilitating in the nursing center while Medicare is paying for their care will hire their own private senior caregiver to assist them. 

Working as a senior caregiver or Certified Nursing Aide or Home Health Aide will pay between $8.00 and $16.00 per hour, depending on what part of the U.S.A. you live in.  In addition, you receive professional training and benefits.  Companion care may not require formal training beyond what a senior care company provides and usually pays 50% to 100% more than minimum wage.

In addition, senior caregiving delivers a fulfilling career, as you know you truly made a positive difference for someone when you go home at the end of the day.  As caregiving sometimes require 24-hour around the clock staffing, there are many opportunities for weekend and evening hours for those who are seeking extra income or a part-time job while studying for a professional career.  Many times nurses and social workers will work as companion caregivers while in school studying for their prerequisites for nursing school or while an undergrad.

Caregiverlist's Career Center provides information about working as a caregiver and connects applicants with hiring senior care companies in their area. You can also read stories from other caregivers to learn about their experiences working as a senior caregiver.

 

, ,

How Alzheimer's Disease Changes Behavior

Everyone forgets something now and then.  How many of us have left the house to go someplace and then remember we forgot to bring something along or wondered if we unplugged the iron or what time a meeting we scheduled weeks ago is suppose to start?  Sometimes we simply have too much information going in and out of our head to properly process it or we don't take the time to really listen and file it away while multi-tasking - regardless of whether we are a senior or not which is why we all have the so called "senior moment".

I am often asked how memory loss for those with Alzheimer's Disease is different than other types of memory loss.  One of the most common answers to this is that Alzheimer's Disease impacts a senior's decision-making ability ongoing and includes confusion of "person, place or thing".  Instead of just forgetting what time a meeting is scheduled for, they might also forget where the meeting is to be held and who is attending or they might confuse their sister for their mother.  Confusion comes into the picture along with the memory loss.

PBS has provided informative programming on Alzheimer's Disease and their website provides a chart showing what part of the brain impacts the various behaviors experienced by those with Alzheimer's disease and makes it a little easier to understand how this disease differs from other types of memory loss.  

Many times a senior may not have their memory loss properly diagnosed.  Because there are a few drugs which can slow the progression of memory loss and services available to help both a senior and their family members with the emotional aspect of dealing with memory loss, definitely make sure you visit a geriatric doctor who can provide a proper diagnosis.  Caregivers can provide better care if they are informed on the type of memory loss the senior has been diagnosed with as there are many tools available for exercising the mind and slowing the progression of memory loss.  It has also been shown that meditation - simply emptying the mind - can be very beneficial for those with memory loss, as well as relaxing.

 

 

 

, , ,

Caregiving: Very Fulfilling Work

Unemployment rates have continued to increase in the last few months, with California reporting a 9.3 percent unemployment rate in December, 2008. January numbers for unemployment are also expected to be at high levels throughout the country.

For those looking for employment, the good news is that there are still plenty of jobs available for senior caregivers.  Senior Home Care Agencies hire both Companion Caregivers and Certified Nursing Aides or Certified Home Health Aides (the Home Health Aide designation and certification is available in some states but still does not exist everywhere).

The job description for a senior caregiver usually includes assisting with personal care, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, medication reminders, exercises, companionship and running errands or escorting to doctor's appointments.  For those seniors who are receiving hospice care or who are recoving from a stroke or hip replacement, more hands-on personal care may be required, including transfers from bed to wheelchair to toilet and assistance with bathing and eating.  Some seniors require mostly companion care because of memory loss.

Caregivers are usually assigned to individual senior clients, maintaining a regular schedule.  But as hospital stays have become shorter and more seniors prefer to stay in their own home with one-on-one care, Senior Home Care Agencies are constantly hiring Caregivers. Some senior care requirements will require no professional experience, other than a caring personality and other care assignments will require at least one year of experience.  In addition, background checks, reference checks and training must be completed before beginning a care assignment.

Caregiverlist provides information about senior caregiving jobs, including pay, benefits, training, interview tips and job descriptions - - just click on CAREGIVING JOBS in our top Nav Bar to learn more.

And, if you or someone you know is job hunting, submit an application on Caregiverlist to be connected with hiring senior care companies in your area for current and upcoming openings.

, ,

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).

 

, , , ,

World's Oldest Woman Dies at Age 115

The world's oldest woman, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died on Friday, January  2nd, at the age of 115 years and 114 days. Maria de Jesus, of Portugal, died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.  She started the day with breakfast and then went to the hospital for swelling, her daughter said (and she did not elaborate beyond that so the exact details for cause of death or unknown).

The Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, tracks supercentenarians and verifies birth dates through birth certificates and other documents.  Now the oldest person status falls to American Gertrude Baines, a 114-year-old daughter of former slaves who still has a very good memory and is healthy except for arthritis in her left knee.  She was proud to vote for Barack Obama and lives in a nursing home in Los Angeles.

Researchers say that definitely for these seniors healthy aging is in their genes - they chose parents who also lived long lives.

It is kind of cool to think that living to be 100 is no longer all that big of an accomplishment.  However, this means savings must last longer, along with good health and presents new challenges for health care and government, primarily making sure we have enough caregivers and enough money for the aging population!

, ,

Caregiving Vitamins

Caregivers often monitor the medications of those they care for, and doctors typically prescribe vitamins to go along with the medications for seniors.  So what about making sure Caregivers are taking the right vitamins?

As more and more research has shown which vitamins are best for certain conditions, learning about the proper vitamin supplements at any age can lead to healthy aging.  Caregivers, especially, deal with lots of stress and proper nutrition, supplemented with vitamins, can be beneficial to avoiding a breakdown in the immune system.

Depending on your family history, you may want to find vitamin supplements for memory, bone and vision loss.  Talk to your doctor about what vitamin combination would be best for you based on the latest research.

One example is the results of a study from Johns Hopkins University which suggested that vitamins C and E taken together may slow down the progress of Alzheimer's disease.  While the study does not prove that vitamins C or E prevent Alzheimer's and more research would be needed to come to that conclusion, this is one of many studies which medical doctors use to guide their individual prescriptions for vitamins.

And, since Caregivers are already monitoring medications, it is easy to take their own vitamins at the same time.  Find out what vitamins are right for you as you take time to take care of the Caregiver!

, ,

Quality Hiring Practices for Caregivers

Professionally hired Caregivers have a few advantages over those who do not work for a quality licensed Senior Home Care Agency or senior living community.  And, so do the seniors who they serve.

As corporations carry insurance coverage for liability and provide a Fidelity Bond, they are required to follow certain procedures for hiring.  In addition, in order to provide quality care and maintain a dependable staff, they have implemented hiring practices which screen Caregivers for dependability, skills and trustworthiness.  Many systems must be in place to properly screen a Caregiver for hiring purposes and to actively manage a Caregiver to provide them with all the resources they need to deliver quality senior care.

Did you see the movie "Catch Me if You Can"?  Frank Abagnale is the star of the movie and a con-artist who poses as an airline pilot and medical doctor, to name just a couple of his disguises, to successfully steal from companies and individuals.  Frank served his time in prison and now advises companies and is hired to train the FBI on how to avoid scam artists.  Frank has also written a book called "The Art of the Steal" to advise companies and individuals on how to protect themselves.  (Tom Hanks acted in the movie and provides a testimonial for reading the book saying anyone with money in their pocket or in the bank should read it).  My business banker actually gave me a copy of the book and I have found it to be fascinating reading.

Caregiverlist promotes the need for professional background checks to be conducted on all Caregivers.  In addition, we provide information on background check laws in each state and try to educate consumers about the need for a multi-state criminal background check - - - many of the nanny websites and direct-hire caregiving websites that provide background checks simply do not provide multi-state criminal background checks - they just provide the good ol' social security name match and many of those are not even complete to include addresses where the person has lived, going back for at least 7 years.  I won't name names but if the background check is free, ask questions and click fast to another website that explains the depth of their background checks and discloses the costs.  That is especially true when you are hiring a Caregiver to come behind closed doors to assist your family.  You need to know who you are bringing into your home and who will have access to the senior's personal information.

Frank Abagnale's book provides solid information about hiring employees and putting controls in place to prevent improper conduct.  After owning a senior home care agency and hiring more than 1,000 Caregivers during that time, I agree that proper systems are necessary so that even an honest person is not tempted.  Caregiving is stressful and when a comfort level is developed with a client relationship, if proper systems are not in place, opportunities for taking advantage are presented.  Caregivers for seniors also need to be protected from false accusations by seniors with memory loss who can become paranoid.

Frank's book also mentions a study which found that 10 percent of employees would steal all of the time if given an easy enough opportunity, another 10 percent would never steal and 80 percent would steal if given the right motive.  That means companies must be concerned about 90 percent of their workforce and have systems in place which prevent the opportunity for theft from being offered.

This is why, especially with senior care in the home, a professional senior home care agency provides great value.  Senior home care agencies have created hiring procedures which keep people with dubious backgrounds out of their companies and they know how to do quality background checks and how to go beyond background checks with reference checks and interview questions which enable them to only hire trustworthy caregivers.  And, they coach clients and set-up controls so that invitations for theft and other improprietary activities cannot take place.  They supervise the caregivers and check-in on the client and caregiver to keep the care on track.  Career caregivers working for professional agencies receive benefits and want to maintain their employment and in my experience, will call immediately to report even activities by  a senior's family members which may not seem appropriate.  They also want proper system in place.  Senior Home Care Agencies, for instance, require Caregivers to call for approval before accepting any client gifts, even at the holidays, just to name one of the policies which protect both the client and the caregiver.

You may learn more about background checks on Caregiverlist.com and find the laws for background checks in your state which may over-ride the FCRA when senior care or child care is being provided.

 

 

 

, ,

Longevity Secrets (or, How to Age Well)

Explorer and writer Dan Buettner has written a book called The Blue Zones which profiles the areas of the world where the most people have lived the longest - and lived those years with happiness and vitality.

More seniors have reached 100 years of age in these “blue zones”, which include towns in Italy, California and Costa Rica.  The book brings to light their lifestyles that seem to suggest why they are living longer.

The website also offers a Vitality Compass so you can find out how well you are doing with healthy aging right now.  This provides a great tool for both seniors and their caregivers.

Included in The Blue Zones top-10 list for healthy aging are growing a garden, eating nuts, drinking Sardinian wine (has the world’s highest levels of antioxidants), meditating and having a personal mission.

, ,
Log in