Cartoonist Scott Adams: I Hope My Father Dies Soon

Dilbert cartoon followers know the humor the cartoon strip writer Scott Adams uses to entertain us with the happenings of daily office life.  The cartoon can always spark a life for those of us who show up for work at an office each day.  Now Mr. Adams has opened up to share the challenges of caring for an aging parent with his blog post titled:  "I Hope My Father Dies Soon".  

Mr. Adam's father, age 86, is bed-ridden and as Mr. Adams says, if his father were a cat, he would have been put to sleep long ago and nobody would have ever looked back.  It would have been the right answer for someone who has lost 98% of their mind and has lost their physical capabilities.  Instead, he pays $8,000 a month to stay in a state of perpetual suffering.  Mr Adams has a way with words and I encourage you to read his blog post on why he hopes his father will die soon.  

Senior care services can easily cost $8,000 a month for round-the-clock care.  And right now, Medicare and Medicaid really provide all or nothing senior care services when it comes to long-term care.  Medicaid, a service provided in conjunction with state and federal funds, provides ongoing nursing home care until someone dies but unfortunately that care usually must be provided only in a nursing home.  And a senior must qualify for this level of total care.  

Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care.  This means most of us will be in the same situation as the Dilbert cartoonist's father - we will have to privately pay for the senior care services and if we have not invested in long-term care insurance, these costs could become as high as $8,000 per month and burn through our life-savings.

The hope is that most seniors will only need part-time senior care to maintain their daily activities of living.  But insurance analysts suggest that everyone plan for 2 years of senior care services.

As the nation's baby boomer population continues to live longer and will increase by as much as 70% in the coming decade, the ethical issues around keeping seniors alive when there is no longer any quality of life will become one of the areas of concern for everyone.  Especially as we must tackle how to pay for senior care for both those who can privately pay and through our tax dollars for those who cannot privately pay for senior care and are on Medicaid care.

Mr. Adams shares that he feels doctor-assisted suicide should be an option, as none of us should be forced to die a long, slow painful death when it has already been confirmed we are at the end of our road.

How much does senior care cost?:

Nursing home care gives the best view into the real costs of full nursing care for seniors.  Here are some of the costs of nursing homes:

  • Alden Estates of Barrington in Barrington, Illinois costs $263 to $362 per day for nursing home care
  • Brighton Place in Spring Valley, California costs $165 per day for nursing home care
  • Mount Vernon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Alexandria, Virginia costs $236 to $270 per day for nursing home care

Learn about nursing home care costs in the Caregiverlist Nursing Home Directory and share with us your comments on end-of-life care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caregiver Recruitment Tools for Joining Largest Growing Industry

Senior caregivers will be one of the fastest growing industry sectors for employment in the coming decade.  Why?  Because America's seniors are living longer while needing care services for more of their senior years.  In addition, senior care services are moving to the home and with the new Affordable Care Act, there is a drive to reduce the need to be hospitalized over and over again for the same health issue.

While the new healthcare law has continued to be debated over and over again, one of the positive aspects of the law is what is called "accountability of care".  This portion of the law pretty much makes sense to everyone.  I mean, who wouldn't want to be not held accountable for their job.....which is probably another blog post.......but back to the topic which is being accountable. The new healthcare law says, "Hey Mr. Hospital, if you are going to discharge a patient from the hospital because you say they are well enough to go home, if they come back into the hospital in a few days or the next week, then maybe something is wrong with your patient care system, and, because of this, Medicare is no longer going to reimburse you at the higher hospital patient care rate."

This means hospitals must now be more accountable for their senior care, or, they won't be paid as much.  And the result is that the hospitals now actually care where you end up when you leave the hospital.  That is a good thing which also means more hospitals really want to be sure there are quality senior caregiving services in place when a senior goes home.

Caregiver recruitment now has become a priority by senior home care agencies to enable them to always have a quality caregiver to staff to the new senior clients they receive each day and week as the seniors are discharged from the hospital.

Professional senior caregivers must meet certain requirements such as:

  • Successfully Pass Criminal Background Check
  • Professional Caregiver Training Meeting State Requirements
  • Consistent to Work Track Record
  • Personal or Professional Senior Caregiving Experience
  • Interest in Fulfilling Employment Assisting Seniors

Online caregiver recruitment tools include producing a professional caregiver resume, obtaining a criminal background check and completing a basic caregiver training course for professional senior caregiving positions.  

Senior care employment includes working for the following senior care companies:

Assisted Living Communities

Senior Home Care Agencies

Home Health Agencies (Medicare/Medicaid Services)

Nursing Homes 

Part-time, full-time and "live-in" positions are available as some age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease require around-the-clock care.  Live-in care does not mean that you actually move in and live with the client but instead is a term to refer to the position requiring full household management where the caregiver will spend the night with the senior and sleep at night.  Live-in caregivers go to the senior's home for a few days in a row and earn a full week's pay in just a few days.

Learn more about becoming a senior caregiver and apply to a professional senior care job in your area on Caregiverlist.  Senior care companies subscribe to Caregiverlist's recruitment platform to allow them to efficiently hire new caregivers each week in order to keep up with their staffing needs.

 

 

 

 

Seven Caregiver Trends

China's rapidly aging population (estimated to grow 35% by 2053), along with its urban single-child mandate, has forced the government to urge adult children to provide more emotional support to their elderly parents. Here, guest blogger Charlotte Bishop discusses the recent steps taken in China to encourage more active long-distance caregiving and it's international implications.

You may not have been following the news in China this past week, but China has enacted what may be the first law governing caregiving to older adults.  In a law called the "Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People"  enacted this month caregivers are called to task.  The law states "Family members living apart from the elderly should visit or send greetings to the elderly persons."  This is not what I would consider a very enforceable statute, but it is a sober statement about what caregivers and their older loved ones around the world are increasingly seeing. 

AARP and a group called the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) have been surveying caregivers since 1997 and an analysis across the years show some interesting trends:

  1. the average age of caregivers has been steadily increasing from 46 years old in 1997 to now 50 years;
  2. the percentage of caregivers who are women still outnumber men, but the numbers have declined from 73% women in 1997 to the most recent figure of 67% women; (this has been generally consistent across caregivers of all ages)
  3. the average percentage of older recipients of care is growing - 24% of recipients 85 years of age and older to now 30% being that old or older;
  4. the proportion of caregivers who also hold a day job has been quite consistent during the years of these surveys;(from roughly three in four to four in five caregivers employed)
  5. across all ages of caregivers there is an increasing incidence of leaves of absence from their jobs reported by caregivers
  6. "burden of care" measured in hours of caregiving as well as actual activities was measured only in the most recent survey, but it was the older caregivers reporting the greatest burdens;
  7. as a counterpoint to this "burden," the older caregivers also were those most likely to use outside services to help in the caring; (older caregivers also were less likely to report help from friends)

Getting back to our China example, the law does say "should."  But it just may be that the authorities were seeing some of the same trends as we see here in the United States.  And what our surveys report pretty much squares with what I see as a geriatric care manager; older caregivers taking care of older friends or spouses shoulder a larger burden, and it ultimately takes its toll on the caregiver.  If you know an older caregiver, help them to find resources to take some of the load off; remember also that a large portion of that "load" may be guilt about not going it alone...so be supportive. 

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Charlotte's blog is also the winner of the 2013 ALTY Award for "Best Senior Healthcare Article."  Please email your questions to ccbishop@creativecasemanagement.com.

If you need help caring for a beloved senior, Caregiverlist is here to help. Request Senior Home Care Agency and Assisted Living Rates and Services Near You: Submit Request. You can also read our recent news story about Chinese elderly and poverty here.

Senior Care in Summer: Heat

The intense heat that grips the Southwest, interior Northwest and the Great Basin shows signs of easing somewhat, however, temperatures will continue to be higher than normal for the rest of the week.

Earlier this week, triple-digit heat struck Southern California and the record-breaking heat in Las Vegas may have led to the death man in his 80s, CNN reports. Paramedics found the man dead in his home, which did not have air conditioning.

In an recent blog, I wrote about the dangers of dehydration in seniors. But older adults are vulnerable to a variety of heat-related illnesses. The elderly are more prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Heat stress especially affects the elderly for a variety of reasons: they don’t adjust to sudden temperature changes as well as their younger counterparts. Prescription medications could hinder the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. Chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and dementia can make someone particularly susceptible to hot weather health problems.

Heat stroke symptoms include hallucinations, chills, confusion and dizziness, along with slurred speech. The CDC reports that common heat related symptoms can also include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Fast and weak pulse rate
  • Fast and shallow breathing


The American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging (FHIA) reports that most of the 200 Americans who die each summer of heat-related complications are over 50. They’ve prepared a handy tip sheet, "Hot Weather Safety Tips for Older Adults", available for download. Caregivers can help seniors stay safe with these recommendations:

Stay inside in air-conditioning. If there’s no air-conditioning in the home, go somewhere that is air-conditioned, like a movie theater, library or senior center. Fans DO NOT provide adequate cooling when temperatures hit 90 degrees.

  • Stay out of the sun. If they must go out, have them wear light, loose-fitting clothing and a  lightweight brimmed hat for shade. Also, apply a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
  • Go out early in the morning or after the sun sets, when it’s cooler.
  • Have your senior drink cool water, juices or other liquids. Stay away from alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate.
  • Give tepid (not too cold or too hot) showers, baths, or sponge baths. Or wet washcloths or towels with cool water and put them on wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck. This will also cool them down.

Keep yourself and your seniors safe and healthy this summer by taking these precautions. Senior caregivers can gain additional crucial caregiving skills by taking a 10-hour online Caregiver Certification training course.

Background Checks: How to Perform Your Own Background Check to Protect Your Identity

Senior caregivers working for professional senior care companies must pass a criminal background check in order to be hired.  Individuals seeking to become professional caregivers or a certified nursing aide may enjoy a guarantee of employment as long as they can pass a criminal background check. This means proper identity information is crucial for a senior caregiver’s background check to return accurate information in order to obtain employment. Caregivers need to understand how to protect their identity and understand the information included on a criminal background check.   Senior care companies conducting criminal background checks on employees include:

  • Licensed Senior Home Care Agencies
  • Long-term Care Nursing Homes
  • Assisted Living Communities
  • Hospitals

How do you protect your identity as a professional caregiver?  Especially knowing you will change care companies multiple times throughout your career?  We live in a digital information age making it even more important to protect your personal identity information both offline and online. 5 Background Check Identity Protection Tips:

1) Purchase Your Own Background Check Annually:  once a year buy a background check on yourself to see the information that is on your criminal record and to confirm the names and addresses attached to your Social Security number.  Research to be sure you understand the right type of quality criminal background check to purchase.

2) Maintain and update online passwords: pick passwords that are unique. Be sure you have anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and a firewall on your computer. Use encryption software to safeguard your online transactions.  Never respond to an email requesting a password reset unless you asked for this yourself on the company’s website. Look for the “lock” on your browser’s status bar which you will see when you are using an online bank’s website.  

3) Review your mailbox, even the junk mail:  if you begin receiving mail in another name at your address, call the sender to investigate.  Be mindful if you stop receiving monthly bills or if your name should change in anyway on your usual subscriptions.

4) Monitor credit card statements:  even if a small amount appears that may not have the exact name of a company you are familiar with purchasing from, call to investigate the transaction.  Some credit card number thiefs will first do a small $10 transaction before making additional charges.

5) Limit credit cards used:  try to limit the number of credit cards you make purchases with to also limit the number of companies that have your information and who are running credit reports on you.  When the friendly department store clerk asks if you would like an additional discount on your purchase by opening up a charge card, just say “no”.

Act quickly if you do discover improper names and addresses associated with your name.  The background check companies do have formal dispute investigation systems in place (you will need to fill out a form to start the ball rolling) and the credit reporting bureaus also will work with you to clear up misinformation.  However, it is a time-consuming process.  The best way to insure a proper criminal background check is to make sure you do not engage in criminal behavior (don’t break the law).  Then be mindful of your spending behaviors to protect your identity.  Check your own background once a year in order to be able to immediately correct mistaken identity information. Review the by-state background check laws to see if employers can review your criminal history beyond just 7 years and purchase a quality background check. Then apply for a professional caregiving job or refer-a-friend to a caregiving job as more caregivers are needed to keep up with the care needs for America's growing senior population.

More Than 1/3rd of Parkinson's Disease Patients Suffer From Dementia.

Parkinson's disease impacts many seniors in their later years, although some people are diagnosed with the disease when they are younger, such as actor Michael J. Fox.  This week, as 3,000 experts in neurology gathered for the annual European Neurological Society (ENS) meeting in Barcelona, Dr. Heinz Reichmann shared study results involving 1,331 German Parkinson's disease patients.

The Neurology Study Found:

  • 15% of Parkson's pateints suffer collaterally from dementia
  • 11% suffer from both dementia and depression
  • 9% suffer from dementia and psychosis
  • 40% to 50% suffer from depression

Nearly all Parkinson's sufferers are affected by dementia if they live long enough.  Research reveals that cognitive decline and depression often worsen the quality of life more than the movement disorder itself and may inhibit the positive results of other therapies.

Depression is mainly caused by the dismantling of those systems which release the monoamine neurotransmitters and the malfunctioning of the frontal lobe and the cerebral cortex.  

Motor impairments in Parkinson's are often associated with an incorrect concentration of dopamine in the blood plasma.

The neurology doctors are continuing to explore and research effective treatments which include psychosocial support, behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, drug therapy as well as electroconvulsive therapy.

Senior caregivers assisting seniors with Parkinson's disease may consider continued caregiver training to keep up with the age-related illnesses.  

The European Societies for Neurology also announced a merger this week during the Barcelona meeting. Going forward the European Neurological Society and the European Federation of Neurological Societies are merging to be called the European Academy of Neurology.

 

 

 

 

End-of-Life Care Ethics: NYC Hospital Made Home for Heiress for Twenty Years

Posted By: Julie Northcutt

End-of-Life care sparks opinions and contemplation for everyone, especially for those of us working in the senior care industry who have witnessed a variety of scenarios.  Hospice care was established to help families navigate through the details and emotions of saying goodbye to a lifetime of friends and family and.....assets.  It seems that time after time it is the assets that can cause problems for everyone for many years after someone has deceased.

Following estates and how they are divided and contested makes for fascinating reading.  The dramas can be better than the best movies and even become the material for movies.  Even when everyone thinks the estate has been firmly settled and legally structured, the heirs can bust a move to contest an issue.  Remember Lady Astor?  Her son seemingly (and a court agreed) convinced her to sign a new will after her memory loss had begun.  

Huguette Clark is the most recent heiress who has some relatives wanting more money from her estate.  A reclusive copper heiress, she collected dolls and found solace in playing with dolls as an adult and lived her last 20 years at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.  She had no children, but her distant relatives did inherit some of her money and now they are digging for more dollars, filing documents in Manhattan Surrogate court that seem to show the hospital also begged Mrs. Clark for dollars.

In one e-mail, the CEO of Beth israel joked that a Manet painting Mrs. Clark donated the hospital did not bring as much as they would have liked at auction and joked that Mrs. Clark "didn't take the bait and offer a half dozen more."  Mrs. Clark gave the hospital more than $4 million dollars and stayed at the hospital until her death at age 104, in addition to the millions she privately paid to stay at the hospital.  She also donated another $1 million in her final, contested, will.

The fact that a hospital allowed someone who perhaps was depressed, but did not need acute medical care, to remain as a patient for 20 years raises ethical questions.  Might have there been a better environment for Mrs. Clarke to live in to address her emotional needs? The fact that the hospital did keep her for so many years and continued to ask her for donations is alarming.  The New York Times reports some of the more disturbing facts, such as the hospital sending staff out to research the Clarke family in order to better understand her wealth.  Mrs. Clarke paid the hospital $1,200 a day for her room.

Sometimes it seems, doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, should take precedence.  A grown woman who watches the Smurfs cartoon and plays with dolls all day probably is not in the state of mind to make donations in the millions to a hospital and to decide she should stay indefinitely in a hospital -  it does not take a degree in medicine to know that.  It takes everyone to be a watchdog for ethics, including senior caregivers.  The Inspector General's office can be one place to report senior abuse and instances of Medicare of Medicaid fraud.  It will be interesting to see how Mrs. Clark's heirs are able to gain some restitution from Beth Israel Hospital.

However, this scenario also begs the question:  where the heck were Mrs. Clarke's heirs during the 20 years she was staying at the hospital?

Research your senior care options ahead of time and plan for the costs of senior care and rehabilitation which often takes place in a nursing home.  This way, if you happen to have an uncle who was a copper baron from Montana, you may better be prepared for how to plan.  

Right at Home and Home Instead Senior Care Companies Hit Sales Milestones

Senior caregiving services continue to grow, as nearly 10,000 Americans turn age 65 every day and enjoy longer lives with the assistance of caregivers.  Two pioneers in senior home care services, Right at Home and Home Instead, are headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Omaha World-Herald reports today that Home Instead surpassed $1 billion in franchise-level sales in 2012 and features Caregiverlist in the report.

Caregiverlist provides the senior care industry's first and only career center for professional senior caregivers created by industry professionals, in an effort to provide high quality senior caregivers.  Currently, there is a shortage of caregivers in some areas of the country and recruiting more caring individuals to work as professional caregivers continues to be an industry initiative.

Memorial Day Adds Emotions to Caregiving

Memorial Day, like so many American holidays, has evolved to become a 3-day weekend and a time to connect with family and friends.  Older Americans, however, very often do feel the true meaning of Memorial Day as they are reminded of all the friends and family members who have passed away.  Caregivers will experience the added challenges of caring for the emotional aspects of aging which includes dealing with the loss of loved ones.

The healing process of grieving takes time and even though professional therapists counsel that grieving a loved one takes 2 years, there will always be triggers that can spur more emotional memories.  In addition, some seniors are grieving the "long goodbye" of a loved one who may be living but no longer be emotionally available because of Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease.

Losing loved ones when we know they are diagnosed as terminal is actually the healthiest way to say goodbye.  But how do we help someone who is recovering from the death of a friend, spouse or family member?  

Listen and let them talk about their memories and what they miss about the person.  Allow them to cry and to laugh and to share.  Encourage them to find a way to celebrate the memories.  The ritual of visiting the cemetery to place fresh flowers on the grave markers on Memorial Day is a healthy way to celebrate the memories of a loved one.  Asian cultures make a shrine to their loved one which they keep in their homes.  They will light candles and celebrate the birthdays and holidays while remembering and honoring their deceased loved ones.

Senior caregivers can also share their own memories of loved ones who have passed on.  One caregiver who recently won a scholarship from the California Association for Health Services at Home shared the story of how caring for her grandparents who both died while in hospice care, inspired her to become a professional senior caregiver and go on to nursing school.

Everyone has a story of a loved one they have lost and still hold the memories in their hearts.  Let Memorial Day be a day to share the memories. And if you meet anyone who may be considering a career as a senior caregiver or who would like to just assist others and work part-time, refer them to a senior caregiving job.

 

 

 

Caregiver Background Checks: Laws Vary in Each State - Minnesota "Bans the Box"

Caregiver background checks are the first step in the caregiver hiring process.  But there is much confusion about the types of background checks and the information that is actually included.  The federal government passed legislation to guide employers on background checks as it is important to give criminals a second chance. The legislatures decided 7 years is the amount of time that should pass to have a clean slate and this requirement is part of a law called the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

States, however, can pass their own laws governing background checks for employment.  These state background check laws will trump the federal law (over-ride it).  Some states allow looking back for more than 7 years if an employee will be working with a senior or a child.

Senior caregiver employers must follow the state background check requirements in their state and caregiver job applicants should also be aware of these requirements which you can find in Caregiverlist's Background Check Laws "By-State" section.  Caregivers may also want to purchase their own background check prior to applying to a professional senior care job to verify all of the information.  As a digital life is a reality now, identity theft and fraud have grown at a high rate and it is important to learn to check your information at least annually to be sure there is no inappropriate information attached to your name.  You should also be sure to only purchase a quality caregiver background check.

Minnesota senior caregiver employers now must follow a new law which Governor Mark Dayton just signed into law, nicknamed "Ban the Box".  This law prohibits employers from inquiring about a job applicant's criminal history or conducting a background check until the applicant has been granted an interview or job offer.  This new Minnesota law also requires removing the question of criminal convictions or arrests on initial job applications.  However, senior caregiver employers can still inform applicants that a criminal history could be a disqualifying factor for a particular job.

Minnesota first passed the "ban the box" law in 2009, applying only to public employers (state and local governments).  Minnesota Senate File 523 expands the law to include private employers and takes effect January 1, 2014.

Employers exempt from the law are those serving vulnerable populations and those employers who are not permitted to hire people with a criminal history.  The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is responsible for enforcing the law and employers will be assessed up to $500 per violation.

Caregivers for senior home care agencies, assisted living communities and nursing homes receive all benefits for employees, as required by law, including unemployment insurance, worker's compensation insurance and healthcare benefits. In order to offer these benefits, companies must hire caregivers who are legal to work and who pass criminal background checks.  Purchase a caregiver background check and apply to a senior caregiver job in your area.  You may also learn about caregiver job descriptions and requirements as more people are needed in the senior care field as the number of seniors in America continues to increase rapidly. 

Log in