Senior Care Training Programs: Online Courses for Senior Caregivers

Senior care training involves learning many skills in order to care for the emotional and physical aspects of senior care and to understand the bigger picture in order to recognize early signs of memory loss and elder care abuse which is often financial.

Senior caregivers are trained to safely assist with physical care needs such as transfering form bed to wheelchair to toilet and to interact with seniors with memory loss and hearing loss.  Many skills are improved upon as a caregiver provides care to seniors with different personality types. 

Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver Training program provides a certificate for successful completion of a 10-hour online training program which meets the requirements established by the Illinois Department of health for non-medical senior caregivers.  The National Private Duty Association was behind the legislation which required all senior home care agencies in Illinois to become licensed beginning in September, 2008.  These licensed home care agencies must provide for a minimum of 8-hours of training each year.  The 10-hour onlione caregiver certification meets this training requirements.

The Caregiver Certification program includes these caregiver training modules:

  • Duties of a Caregiver
  • Communicating with Others
  • Observation, Reporting and Recording
  • Providing Personal Care
  • Promoting and Maintaining Good Mobility
  • Elimination and Toileting
  • Environmental Hazards and Safety
  • Basic First Aid
  • Understanding Elder Abuse

Upon passing the course at 80% success rate, a caregiver may print out their Certificate and their name will be added to the database of certified caregivers.  Senior caregivers remain in high demand by employers and may find job opportunities for part-time and full-time employment with professional senior care companies.


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Respite from Senior Caregiving: Caring for the Caregiver

The demands of taking on the responsibilities of caring for an aging parent or other relative can take a toll on both the mental and physical well-being of the caregiver.  Caregivers who lack sufficient support or respite resources risk suffering from “compassion fatigue”, which is an exhaustion that overcomes the caregiver and can cause excessive feelings of guilt.  This exhaustion is beneficial to neither the caregiver nor the one receiving care – it is vital to schedule enough breaks from daily caregiving in order to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of the caregiver, which in turn benefits the one receiving care. 

Many support groups exist nationwide specifically to help caregivers cope with the strain of caring for a sick or elderly loved one.  While support groups are certainly beneficial, it is important for family caregivers to realize that they do not have to shoulder the entire burden of caregiving with no rest.  Options exist to help ease the exhaustion that can result from relentless caregiving.

Respite care exists so that the primary caregiver can take a vacation - whether it is a vacation out of the home, or a vacation within the home that provides a break from caregiving duties.  Adult day care is another option for family members who need to run errands or go to an appointment without worrying about how their loved one will be cared for or supervised while they are gone.  It is important for caregivers to realize that they need to consistently care for themselves while caring for another in order to provide care to the best of their abilities.  It is additionally important for relatives to realize when they are no longer able to fully care for a loved one entirely on their own. 

If your family is looking into beginning care services, Caregiverlist provides a chart that compares the by-state costs of several senior care options, including home care, live-in care, nursing home, and assisted living.  You may additionally research the costs of nursing homes in your area from our directory of the daily costs of 18,000 nursing homes nationwide.  Or, if home care would be most appropriate for your needs, allow us to connect you with quality home care agencies in your area.

Family caregivers may also take a 10-hour online caregiver training course to become certified as a caregiver and gain the skills needed to be a non-medical senior caregiver.

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Chicago Nursing Home Care

Chicago seniors may need to have nursing care after a hospital stay and once a senior has Medicare benefits, they will receive a portion of the nursing home stay covered as a benefit, as long as a medical doctor preapproves the nursing care need.  However, Medicare will only cover a portion of the nursing home costs for up to 100 days after a major medical event.

This is when it becomes important to understand both the costs of care and the quality of the care provided.  Health inspections are conducted of nursing homes almost every year - the inspection must happen once every 15 months but as the inspectors change and some of the criteria can be subjective, these are only a starting point for evaluating a nursing homoe.

Chicago seniors should focus on the criteria that can be most likely to be accurate - Caregiverlist highlights these ratings which include the staffing ratio of C.N.A.'s to patients.  Often the ration is one C.N.A. to every 12 to 15 residents which means it can sometimes be difficult for this one C.N.A. to adequately transfer and assist all residents each morning and evening.  In these instances, families often must hire a private caregiver to come to the nursing home and assist the senior.

Chicago senior care options include:

  • Nursing Home care
  • Assisted Living
  • Senior Home Care (by licensed senior home care agency)

Review the nursing homes in the Chicagoland area along with the daily costs in order to be prepared should rehabilitation care in a nursing home become a need.

Illinois nursing homes range in price from $96 to $408 per day for a private room with a bathroom in the room - nursing homes in smaller cities cost less and the highest rating is 5-stars.

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Chicago Senior Care Costs

Chicago seniors prefer to stay in Chicago.  Unlike some northern cities, Chicagoland seniors most often age-in-place and stay in their home or move to a senior living community.  Downtown Chicago has even begun to attract empty-nesters from the suburbs.

Chicago seniors have the following care choices:

  • Senior home care agency hourly or live-in caregiver services (professionally managed, meeting the state of Ilinois requirements which include 8-hours of training for caregivers)
  • Assisted Living Community (which will often require additional private duty caregiving services by a senior care agency)
  • Nursing Home

Chicago nursing homes range in costs from $106 per day at Margaret Manor on West Cullom Avenue to $291 per day at the Lexington of Schaumburg.  Nursing home staffing ratios of Certified Nursing Aides to residents is an important part of considering which nursing home will be most appropriate.

Senior home care agencies in Illinois must be licensed and must provide a minimum of 8 hours of training for caregivers.  Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver training, powered by aQuire, has been customized to meet the Illinois Department of Health caregiver training requirements for professional caregivers.  Family caregivers and professional caregivers may purchase the training online.

Chicago seniors may review the Illinois nursing home costs and ratings in Caregiverlist's nursing home directory.

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Alzheimer's Disease New Treatment

Alzheimer's disease progresses at various paces and presents an ongoing challenge for senior caregivers.  The Alzheimer's Association International Conference met in Vancouver this week and announced the first medication that is showing positive results in clinical trials for slowing or halting the progression of the disease.  The treatment is an immune therapy called IVIG/Gammagard that has been given intravenously for 3 years to a small group of participants. 

The medication, made by Baxter International, follows 9 years of no new drug therapies being announced for the disease.  The participants in this therapy did not show improvement in most of the symptoms of Alzheimer's that they already had, but they also did not show any further decline on measures of cognition, memory or daily functioning or mood over the three years.

The U.S. government has announced a plan to prevent Alzheimer's disease by 2025.  As the cost of senior care can in a nursing home or in the home with a full-time caregiver be as much as $80,000 per year, this is good news.

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Five Wishes Legally Documents Care Requests

End-of-life care always presents challenges, but the challenges are multiplied when the legal documents for someone's desired wishes are not in place.  The Five Wishes is a simple legal document that is also affordable and assists seniors and caregivers to plan for end-of-life care.
As a senior caregiver, it important to know the senior's wishes when a medical emergeny arises.  Are they a DNR, or Do-Not-Resucitate?  Do they want to have life support if the issue will only be short-term or not at all? Who is the healthcare power-of-attorney (PofA) and the financial power-of-attorney to manage these issues for the senior if they cannot make the decisions themselves.  It is also important to have these legal documents in place prior to memory loss beginning.
The need to make critical medical decisions often occurs suddenly and must frequently be decided by someone other than the one needing care. It is important to have a set of medical care instructions in place to prepare for the possibility that an individual may not be able to be their own advocate when major decisions must be made. Five Wishes acts as a valid living will, which is a document that expresses the wishes of its owner in regard to life support and other considerations of urgent medical care. 
Read about issues seniors and caregivers confront and learn how the Five Wishes can be of assistance in Caregiverlist's interview with an estate attorney and senior home care agency owner in this article.  The Five Wishes document is inexpensive and developed by someone who worked with hospice patients.   In it, we spoke to the owner of a homecare agency to better understand what kind of documentation is helpful when care is suddenly needed. We additionally spoke to a tax attorney to differentiate between what constitutes a will, a living will, or a Power of Attorney and the advantages of having each. 
Since its creation in 1997, Five Wishes is now available in 26 languages and is a legal advance directive in 42 states. It is available for purchase online or may be ordered by mail. Five Wishes must be signed by two witnesses to verify that the owner is of sound mind at the time of signing the document. While Five Wishes is particularly useful for those needing or seeking senior care, the homecare agency owner and the tax lawyer recommended that any adult have a living will in place. 
You may purchase the Five Wishes document online or order for $5.00 per document, with discounts available when you purchase 25 or more at the website
You may also want to research senior care options to learn about the nursing homes and senior care agencies in your area as you plan ahead for potential senior care needs.
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Doctors Marking Up Medications Prompts New Laws in Some States

Seniors on Medicare know that medications can be the most expensive portion of their healthcare.  At the same time, the little pills their doctor prescribes are many times allowing the senior to extend their life and live a more enjoyable life.  This may be why it is shocking news that doctors are marking up the medications they dispense in their office to make more money.

Doctors prescribing and selling medications also presents a conflict of interest.  The New York Times reports Florida, California and Oklahoma lawmakers are tackling regulation of this issue.  The doctors profit some from the overcharging but it seems Automated HealthCare, a leader in physician dispensing, is behind the practice and partly owned by Abry Partners, a private equity firm which has contribued more than $3.3 million in political contributions. 

The heartburn drug Zantac has been sold by doctors for as much as $3.25 instead of the normal 35 cents.

Seniors should question their medical doctor if he is prescribing a medication and also selling it in the doctor's office.



Financial Columnist Terry Savage Highlights Long-term Care Insurance

Senior care costs can spiral up as care needs advance, as all senior caregivers have experienced.  Right now, Americans must pay for their own long-term senior care, unless they have nearly no assets and qualify for Medicaid health insurance for very low-income seniors.  One solution to help pay for senior care costs is long-term care insurance.  But it now it seems that even these insurance companies are questioning if they can cover the costs of paying for senior care with their policies.

Terry Savage, a financial columnist, provides an overview of the long-term care insurance industry in her column this week.  Combination products, or "combo products" are one way to fund long-term care that allows you to leverage the insurance contract.  You can have as much as six times the amount you paid in premium to use for paying for long-term care expenses.

Insurance companies offering these combo products are:

  • State Life Insurance Company, a division of OneAmerica
  • Lincoln Financial Group
  • Genworth

These combo products combine the concepts of an annuity or life insurance policy with long-term care insurance.  As nursing homes can cost as much as $300 per day (you can access nursing home costs in Caregiverlist's nursing home directory), and Medicare does not pay for long-term care, it is important to evaluate and plan ahead for senior care.



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Ernest Borgnine, Academy Award Actor, Dies at 95

Ernest Borgnine’s face wasn’t the prettiest one on the screen, but it was oftentimes the most compelling. Mr. Borgnine ushered in an era of American cinematic realism. Rising to fame as the thug who beat Frank Sinatra to death in the movie “From Here to Eternity”, he won the Oscar for his lead role in the 1955 film “Marty”, a sad, lonely Bronx butcher looking for love.

He passed away Sunday in Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of renal failure.

My earliest memory of the actor was on the television show “McHale’s Navy”. The great ensemble sitcom that included Tim Conway and Joe Flynn. But it was Borgnine’s scheming McHale who was its most memorable character.

I remember watching him in “The Poseidon Adventure” and thinking, How did he land a babe like Stella Stevens? But then it became clear as the movie went on —he was rough and gruff, but also incredibly tender. And he was real.

He continued to work well into his 90s. A whole new generation heard him voice the character of Mermaid Man on the series Spongebob Squarepants, an aging ex-superhero whiling his time away in a cartoon nursing home, joined by his perpetual sidekick, Barnacle Boy (again, Tim Conway).

His death makes Sidney Poitier the oldest living Academy Award winning actor at 85.

Although his private life could have been tabloid fodder, he had a great sense of humor about his life. He himself made light of his 38 day marriage to Ethel Merman — but it’s the talent and body of work for which he’ll be remembered. In this Kardashian-famed age of smoke and mirrors, we at mourn the passing of a true artist of substance.
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LGBT Seniors Find Community

USA Today recently reported that a growing number of gay senior centers is opening in the U.S.

The needs of seniors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are a little different than the needs of those in the heterosexual community. According to Scott French, Program Manager for SAGECAP, a National Support Group for LGBT Older Adults, LGBT seniors are:
  • Twice as likely to age as a single person
  • Twice as likely to live alone
  • Three to four times less likely to have children to support them (adult children are the No. 1 source of unpaid care giving)
LGBT seniors are finally starting to see a trend in new and existing centers recognizing their unique needs and reaching out to offer inclusive housing and programs.

On March 3, 2012, New York-based SAGE Center opened the first full-time LGBT senior center in the U.S. in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. Internationally, the SAGE Center has plans to open gay retirement communities in Spain and Germany.

In June of 2011, Chicago’s Center on Halsted, which already provides a wealth of opportunities and programs for seniors in its community, announced plans with Heartland Alliance to build the Midwest's first affordable LGBT Senior Housing facility in 2012. The six-story apartment building will include 80 studio and 1-bedroom apartments designed for independent seniors and community rooms for classes and special events.

The Volen Center of Boca Raton, Florida offers "Alternatives/Sage", a program “specifically targeted to address the needs of the Gay and Lesbian Community”.

In May, the First White House conference on gay aging was held in Miami. There, it was acknowledged that gay seniors face unique obstacles because of discrimination, health-care inequities and fear of retaliation.

Historically, the Administration on Aging recognized the need to help service marginalized populations based on ethnicity, including African Americans and Hispanic/Latino communities. According to the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, “In the same vein, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded its historic grant in February 2010 to establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, it affirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults have unique needs that must be met by providers across the country.”

By law, senior centers cannot discriminate delivery of services based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. If you or one of your loved ones is part of the LGBT community and there are no dedicated services in your area (yet), can help you find a variety of quality senior care options.

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