Senior Caregivers Win $100+

Share Your Photos and Be Entered to Win + Vote for the Winner

We know caregivers provide much more than just assistance to seniors. You are companions, friends, confessors, story-keepers. You are often the only emotional support for your senior client as they continue to confront and tackle the process of aging.

Caregiverlist champions the professional senior caregiver. That's why we've decided to launch a summer photo contest to honor professional caregivers. Caregivers, Certified Nursing Aides, and Certified Home Health Aides may submit a photo of themselves with a senior client to the Caregiverlist Summer Photo Contest for Senior Caregivers.

Have fun with your photo submissions. Showcase your creativity and uniqueness. Then invite friends and family to vote for you and your senior. Contest winners will be chosen based on popularity via voting. Caregiverlist will award $100, $50 and $25 Amazon gift cards to the top 3 voted pictures and free t-shirts to the runners-up The contest starts Monday, July 8, 2013, and runs through Monday, July 29, 2013. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Our Caregiverlist Facebook page hosts the contest.

Caregivers may submit their photo on Facebook and vote for caregiver and senior photo submissions here.

You can vote for your favorite caregiver and senior photo here.

Caregivers also may always submit a job application on Caregiverlist to be considered for part-time, full-time and live-in caregiving jobs and find online caregiver training.

Good luck!


Julie and the Grandmas.

Sequester's Effect: Senior Hunger in America

On March 1, 2013, sequestration-fueled across-the-board federal budget cuts have had a profound impact on on the most vulnerable of our society, American seniors.

Nearly one in every 12 seniors over the age of 60 is “food insecure”, according to new research released this week in partnership with the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). That number represents 4.8million seniors, double the number of elderly going hungry in 2001.

Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, estimates that the number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025.

But even in the face of these staggering numbers, budget cuts have caused the vital programs for seniors in need, like Meals on Wheels, to cut back their assistance. In a new survey released by MOWAA, here’s how the budget cuts are affecting Meals on Wheels programs around the country:

  • Programs have been forced to cut, on average, 364 meals per week;
  • Over 70% are establishing or adding to existing waiting lists;
  • Programs have increased their waiting lists on average by 58 seniors;
  • 40% of programs responding have eliminated staff positions; and
  • One in six are closing congregate meals sites or home-delivered meal programs.


Credit: Meals on Wheels Association of America

Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of the Meals On Wheels Association of America, testified on June 19, 2013 at a U.S. Senate hearing on senior hunger and poverty. At that hearing Ms. Hollander explained that for every $1 invested in Meals on Wheels programs, Medicaid sees a $50 savings because seniors are able to remain healthy and independent in their homes as opposed to needing nursing home care.

Caregiverlist has long championed Meals on Wheels, the national organization dedicated to eradicating senior hunger in America through community-based programs. In addition to providing what could be a senior’s only hot meal for the day, Meals on Wheels, in many instances, provides the only opportunity for human interaction to many elderly shut-ins. To learn more about MOWAA or to locate a local Meals on Wheels program, visit the MOWAA website.

Senior caregivers are on the front lines of helping the elderly to eat right as a component of healthy aging. You can learn additional crucial caregiving skills by taking a 10-hour online Caregiver Certification training course.

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.

Senior Care in Summer: Hydration

Seniors can easily fall victim to dehydration when their bodies don’t get the fluids they need. It is one of the top ten causes of hospitalization among the elderly and one of the most easily preventable. Now that the heat of summer is finally upon us, it’s important to realize just how vital the intake of pure water is on the health and well-being of those over 65 years of age.

As people age, their ability to detect thirst lessens. Therefore, if liquids are only taken when a person feels thirsty, they might not be getting the amount of water they need. And things only get worse in advanced age.

The European Hydration Institute reports that people aged between 85-99 years are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for dehydration than those aged 65-69 years.

High-risk seniors tend to be those who live on their own in the community. As such, they rely on their caregivers to recognize the symptoms of dehydration and take appropriate steps to combat it.

Signs of dehydration are:

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Low or no urine output; concentrated urine appears dark yellow
  • Lack of tear drops
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lack of skin elasticity
  • Lethargy


Here are some tips from the EHI to help keep elderly people well-hydrated:

  • Fluids should be taken at mealtime and in between meals. Fluids should be readily available and physically accessible both day and night.
  • Caregivers should be familiar with dietary changes so that appropriate hydration recommendations can be made.
  • Alcoholic beverages may provoke dehydration and are not recommended.
  • Many types of foods contain a substantial amount of water. If an older person finds it difficult to increase the amount of fluid drunk, increasing the intake of foods, such as soups or fruit and vegetables, which typically contain 80-90 percent water, can help to maintain an adequate water intake as well as being good sources of essential nutrients.
  • Varying flavors and even colors can improve palatability of beverages offered and can help facilitate adequate hydration.


Caregivers should also keep in mind that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and is essential to healthy aging.  During the dog days of summer, watermelon, popsicles and ices are also delicious means of keeping your senior well-hydrated and out of the hospital.

Senior caregivers can gain additional crucial caregiving skills by taking a 10-hour online Caregiver Certification training course.

 

National Nursing Assistant Week in its 36th Year

I’m not sure where my family would be without the help of our Certified Nursing Aide. The CNA provided by our Home Care Agency comes in twice a week to help care for my aging mother. She allows me to continue working outside the home and provides respite for the other family caregivers. She is a wonderful companion, making mom’s day brighter with her gentleness and humor. It gives me great peace of mind knowing that while I’m away, my mother is in the hands of a professional caregiver.

June 13 - 20 is National Nursing Assistants Week and a great opportunity to show your admiration, respect and appreciation for direct care worker in your life. Sponsored by the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants,  this week "provides a timely opportunity to foster and showcase the wonderful things that can happen for residents and workers when we join together."

Because of the aging of our population, qualified nursing assistants are in high demand. In 2010, there were more than 1.5 million people working as Certified Nursing Assistants nationwide. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

In honor of my mother’s CNA, I’m going to do a little more than just give her a Starbuck’s gift card (although I’ll do that as well.) I’m going to try to affect some real change by advocating for in-home care on a legislative level. Today, I’m signing the petition on Change.org , and entreat President Obama to finish what he started on December 15, 2011 — to extend federal minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.



At Caregiverlist, we applaud those who give so tirelessly of themselves by caring for some of the most vulnerable of our society. CNAs are the backbone of the senior caregiving community.

If you are now or are considering becoming a CNA, visit our Caregiving Career Center to build a resume, apply for a job or get the training you need to start you on a career path that really makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

Senior Fall Prevention in a Video Game

How many seniors fall each year? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency rooms in 2010, and the direct medical costs of falls was more than $28.0 billion. The death rates from falls among elderly men and women continue to rise.

Blue Marble Game Company’s Zoezi Park is a game developed by the Los Angeles company that uses cameras and sensors to create an onscreen avatar that mimics the player’s movements. The game then provides exercises and activities that improve balance, coordination and physical strength. The data can be accessed by a healthcare professional online. Zoezi Park can be used anywhere there is an internet connection — senior centers, rehab facilities or in the privacy and comfort of a senior’s own home.

Blue Marble’s goal is to merge cutting-edge technology with the fun of gesture-based video gaming to positively impact the health and wellbeing of those older adults at risk of or rehabilitating from a fall.

The Zoezi Park project was previously supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, but since budget cuts, that funding is no longer available. The company, in conjunction with the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Three Two One Productions is using crowdfunding to raise their goal of $30,000 by July 13, 2013.

The following statistics are from the Zoezi Park Crowdfunding page at When You Wish:

  • 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day with 1 in 3 of them experiencing a fall each year.
  • Each fall costs $48,000 on average.
  • The leading cause of injury related death in people over 65 is falls.
  • Falls are a public health problem.

Senior caregivers can gain more caregiving safety skills by taking a 10-hour online Caregiver Certification training course. Professional caregivers are taught the basic safety skills for transferring a senior and assisting with walking when they begin working for a senior care company. Those who would like to work as a professional caregiver should remember that Companion Caregivers only require personal experience (as often seniors with memory loss may require ongoing caregiving just to keep medications and daily activities on track). Caregivers and C.N.A.'s may apply for a caregiving job in their area to begin a career in senior care.

Inside the Dementia Epidemic: Indie Award-Winning Author Shares Story About Caring for Mother

Martha Stettinius is the award-winning author of the book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,” and until recently a “sandwich generation” caregiver for her mother, Judy, who had vascular dementia and probable Alzheimer’s disease. When Judy, 72, could no longer live alone in her remote lakeside cottage—when she stopped cooking and cleaning, lost a lot of weight, and was in danger of falling—Martha encouraged her to move into her home with her husband, Ben, and their two children. For 8 years, until Judy passed away late last year, Martha was her primary caregiver at home, in assisted living, a rehab center, a “memory care” facility, and a nursing home. Martha serves as a volunteer representative for the Caregiver Action Network (a national organization providing caregiver support and advocacy) and as an expert in dementia care for the website eCareDiary.

In this short excerpt from “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,” Martha writes about taking her mother to visit her old cottage, and learning that day to see dementia differently.

In late October, two and a half years since she moved in with us, I bring Mom along with me and Ben and the kids for an afternoon at the lake. I imagine that she will light up at the sight of the cottage, but as she sits outside with me in the front yard in the shade of an umbrella, and watches the waves, her expression is flat, muted, as if the yard is just a place like any other.
At first, I feel deflated, but within moments I realize something: It’s time for me to stop trying to bring my mother pleasure through what’s left of her memory. If she no longer recognizes the deep blue swell of her lake, if these pieces of her life no longer move her, then truly there’s nothing but the present moment—and other people.

I decide to take her out for a rowboat ride. I wonder if feeling the rowboat rock softly on the water will help my mother experience the joy in the lake she used to feel in her canoe, or when she watched the waves from her desk.
Ben helps me support Mom under her arms as she steps in. Mom sits in the middle of the wide seat along the back of the boat, Andrew [our 12-year-old] squeezes into the bow, and from the middle seat I row the three of us a hundred feet out into the lake. I keep my eyes on hers. She grips the edge of the seat, her back ramrod straight, her eyes wide but not scared. We bounce gently on the waves and Mom releases her hands from the seat to stretch her arms and clasp the sides of the boat. She smiles. When I tell her that she can lean against the high back wall of the boat, she scoots her bottom toward the wall and relaxes.

Back on shore, there’s a problem. We find that Ben has gone off to the store; Andrew and I have to pull up the heavy boat and get Grammy out on our own. I call Morgan [our 10-year-old] out of the house for her help. We hold Grammy’s hands and coach her to walk up the length of the boat from the back, which is still in the water, to the bow so we can help her step out onto the beach. She stands on the seat in the bow, too high to step down. I ask Andrew and Morgan to find a stool in the boathouse and they bicker about who should go. Andrew finds my garden stool, which has wheels, and I wedge it between my feet beside the boat and try to persuade Mom to step down on it.

“Don’t make me cry,” she says.

My heart flares for a moment with guilt, but she trusts me and her fear passes quickly. She holds my hands firmly as I ask Andrew to carry over one of the lawn chairs. Mom hesitates, then lifts one leg over the rail of the boat and steps onto the chair, brings her other leg over, pauses, then steps down to the garden stool and then onto the shale, where she tucks her slender shoulders into my arms. Such a production! I can’t believe I asked my mother, who just recovered from a pelvic fracture, to clamber in and out of a boat.

But I’m glad I did. In the boat Mom seemed to absorb it all—my attention as I held her eye and smiled at her, the breeze, the blue-green waves, the gentle push of the oars, the firmness of the boat’s floor under her Keds. When we passed our neighbors on their dock Mom had let go of the side of the boat to wave with a big smile.

Without memory, I think to myself, what’s left? Not destinations like going to the cottage—not the pleasure of their anticipation and repetition—but moments like these, of sense and touch, rhythm and movement, patience and reassurance.

"Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir” is available through all major online book retailers as a paperback and e-book. Martha can be contacted through her website and blog, www.insidedementia.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

 

What You Should Know About Seniors and Drug Addiction

Guest blogger David Tews, Ed.D., Clinical Director at Soft Landing Recovery, weighs in on the recent uptick in senior drug abuse. The last time we spoke to Dr. Tews, we discussed senior binge drinking. Here, he talks about the alarming increase in drug addiction in the elderly.

Drug abuse among seniors is on the rise. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the percentage of older adults (50-59) who reported having abused illicit and prescription drugs had more than doubled, from 2.7 percent to 6.2 percent in 2011. This is the number reported, so the actual percentage is probably much higher.

Why the rise in older adult substance abuse? We have seen more patients in this category during the past year, and there are several factors influencing the increase. Many patients experience painful events during this time in their lives, both physical and emotional. Some of the patients we see have become addicted to prescription painkillers, especially narcotics such as Vicodin and Darvocet. After time, they develop a tolerance to the drugs (needing to take more for the desired effect), and when they try to cut down or stop, they experience very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. It suddenly occurs to them that they are addicted to painkillers.

Many elderly patients who have used prescription medication for anxiety have found themselves in a similar dilemma, needing to take more medicine for the desired effect to the point that they are taking the maximum dose without significantly reducing their symptoms. Many patients use alcohol to relieve stress and anxiety (including social anxiety), and the increased use of this drug may increase as they retire, lose loved ones, or begin socializing more in circles which include drinking as part of the social setting.

Illicit and prescription drugs have long been used to help people cope with stress, loss, grief, and anxiety. The loss of a loved one is a serious factor as the loved one may have been the patient's only source of emotional support. An older person may be less likely to seek treatment because of pride or simply not wanting to be labeled an "addict."

Many older adults have other, very legitimate, physical and mental health issues for which they are taking medication. Mixing alcohol and prescription medication could have extremely serious consequences including death. Attempting withdrawal on one's own could also have dire consequences including death. When a person feels the use of a drug, prescription or otherwise, is out of control (tolerance and withdrawal), they need to ask for help.

As the population continues to age, and the baby-boomers continue to retire, it is safe to say the number of people with substance abuse problems will continue to increase. If you or someone you know may have a problem, seek help immediately.

Resources:  

What do you think? Have you or a loved one ever experienced an unexpected addiction? How did you (or they) cope? At what point does one decide that eliminating real, physical pain trumps the risk of addiction?

 

Barbara Eden at 78 Still Looks Great

Barbara Eden, 78, donned her iconic “I Dream of Jeannie” costume for the Life Ball’s opening ceremony at the charity event in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday, May 25.

Rocking the infamous pink and red crop top and harem pants, the actress performed Jeannie’s signature move by crossing her arms, nodding her head and winking, — making her new “Master”, former president Bill Clinton, appear. Europe's biggest fundraiser for HIV and AIDS awareness included Elton John, singer Fergie and Olympic diver Greg Louganis.

Scandalous in the 60s, the costume caused a great deal of controversy with the censors due to its exposed midriff.

Before the event, Ms. Eden tweeted the following:

In a 2012 interview with website Life After 50, Ms. Eden shared her secrets on aging well with exercise and diet.

When asked about her feelings about aging, the actress smiled and said, “My mother used to say it’s better than the alternative,” she said. “I just think we should do all we can to enjoy every day – every minute. I’m really happy to be here. I can still work, I can still spin, and I can still lift my weights. So I’m very lucky.”

"I Dream of Jeannie" ran from 1965-1970. In the series’ 139 episodes, Ms. Eden starred as the 2,000-year-old genie who falls in love with her reluctant master, astronaut Tony Nelson (played by the late Larry Hagman).

Florence Nightingale: Is She Still Relevant?

Caregiverlist's team celebrated Nurses’ Week recently, a week recognizing the field of nursing which culminated in the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Every nurse and Certified Nursing Assistant (and almost everyone else in the world) has heard of Florence Nightingale, who established the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery at Kings College London, the first official nurses’ training program, in 1860. The oldest professional nursing school in the UK, it is still in operation today. She also acted as a consultant for the John Hopkins School of Nursing, one of the first nursing institutions in the United States, in 1889.

In honor of Ms. Nightingale and nurses everywhere, I decided to take a look at Notes on Nursing: What it is, and What it is Not, by Florence Nightingale — the first nursing handbook, published in 1898 and made available free online at Project Gutenberg as an ebook and for Kindle.

At a time when two in every five children in London died before their fifth birthday and the average life-expectancy was 47 years, the book was of vital importance and was the first of its kind ever written on the fundamentals of caring for the ill. It elevated the views on nurses and nursing.

If, then, every woman must at some time or other of her life, become a nurse, i.e., have charge of somebody's health, how immense and how valuable would be the produce of her united experience if every woman would think how to nurse.

I do not pretend to teach her how, I ask her to teach herself, and for this purpose I venture to give her some hints.

The table of contents shows the following topics for advice and recommendations:

  • ventilation and warming
  • 
health of houses
  • 
petty management (how things are done by others when you must be away)
  • 
noise

  • variety (environment)

  • taking food
  • 
what food?

  • bed and bedding
  • 
light

  • cleanliness of rooms and walls
  • 
cleanliness (personal)
  • 
chattering hopes and advices (the false assurances and recommendations of family and friends to the sick)

  • observation of the sick


Notes on Nursing proposed that “Of the sufferings of disease, disease not always the cause.” Pure air, pure water, light and ventilation, cleanliness and fresh bedding, all stand the test of time in their assistance with patient care and recovery. She was also one of the first to write about the power of positive thinking.

More interesting to me was the advice indicative of the Victorian age — and that no one before Ms. Nightingale had the temerity to suggest that environmental changes would affect the health and well-being of those in need of care.

She championed the call to abolish slop pails and chamber utensils without lids, sounded the alarm regarding the burning of the crinolines (referring to the large, flammable underskirts all women wore in the name of decency, which would often catch fire,) and the refusal to believe that the extent of a patient’s illness was “in God’s hands.”

Her holistic nursing approach, of course, extended to food served to the sick. Here again, some truths are universal, some selections read like curiosities. Food like beef tea (clear soup?), homemade bread — good. Eggs whipped with wine? Not so much.

Because of its historical importance and ready availability, I urge you to read it yourself. Then let us know in the comments: Is this best considered an interesting read, or do you feel, as Joan Quixley, then head of the Nightingale School of Nursing wrote in her introduction to the 1974 edition, "the book astonishes one with its relevance to modern attitudes and skills in nursing, whether this be practised at home by the 'ordinary woman', in hospital or in the community. The social, economic and professional differences of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in no way hinder the young student or pupil from developing, if he or she is motivated to do so, its unchanged fundamentals by way of intelligent thought and practice."?

One thing is true, then as now — caregiving is a noble calling. If you are considering it as a career choice, or if you are looking to increase your skillset, visit our Caregiver Career Center to get your caregiver certification training, build a resume, or apply for a caregiver job.

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