Advanced Style: Celebrating Over-Sixty Chic

I’ll admit it — I’ve been known to occasionally fall down the rabbit hole of online fashion sites. I’ll start at LE CATCH, drift over to FashionIndie, then lose a few hours on The Sartorialist. But because the nature of my job is to acquaint myself with all things senior and elder-related, I’ve always held a very soft spot in my heart for Ari Seth Cohen and his amazing New York street-style blog, Advanced Style.

The Advanced Style blog documents older women (and men) who dare to express themselves in fashion. Mr. Cohen began the blog in 2008 after moving to New York City, where he roams the streets looking to document the fashionable over-60 set — both male and female. As he states on his site, “Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest."

The international popularity of the blog has translated into a book, and even a coloring book. Now Mr. Cohen brings seven stylish ladies, aged 63 to 95, to the big screen in his affectionate and inspiring documentary, Advanced Style. Advanced Style had its U.S. premier at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on May 3. Below is the long trailer of this fantastic film featuring some of the world’s most stylish seniors. Directed by Lina Plioplyte and produced by Ari Seth Cohen, I’m hoping the documentary finds wider distribution here in the U.S.

 As the American Baby Boomer generation ages, coming into one’s own style is just one aspect of aging well. Since we’re all living longer, it just makes sense to do it on your own terms. Or as Jean, of Valerie & Jean, the duo behind Idiosyncratic Fashionistas puts it, “I dress for myself. If someone doesn’t like what I’m wearing, I don’t give a sh*t.”

CNA Doesn't Always Mean Certified Nursing Assistant

This one is on me.

I am always scanning the internet for C.N.A. news, and the following caught my eye: FCB Brasil, CNA Launch 'Speaking Exchange' (thanks Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls!)

FCB Brasil implemented a program with CNA (which I ALWAYS read as Certified Nursing Assistants) in a program to connect young Brazilians who want to learn to speak English with senior citizens living in a retirement community. The senior retirement for this pilot program is the Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago. Can you understand my confusion when I learned that CNA is a language school and has nothing to do with Certified Nursing Assistants?

In any case, the senior/youth connection is a brilliant one and a win-win for all involved. The webchat exchanges between the kids perfecting their English skills and the seniors who are happy to converse with them are uploaded to YouTube where instructors can assess their progress. But let’s face it, there’s a whole lot more than language learning going on here. Says Max Geraldo, FCB Brazil's executive director in an interview with Adweek: "The beauty of this project is in CNA's belief that we develop better students when we develop better people."

Watch the following video and see just how remarkable this project is. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope this idea sparks many copycats.

If you are a senior caregiver interested in taking the next step in your career, consider becoming a C.N.A. (and this time I mean a Certified Nursing Assistant.) Caregiverlist® provides a free sample C.N.A. test to see how well you might do. Or if you are already trained as a C.N.A., fill out the Caregiverlist® 5-minute job application to reach multiple employers hiring in your area.

What Makes a Good Nursing Home?

Let’s face it, few go happily and willingly to a nursing home. While the majority of seniors prefer to age in place, at home, sometimes circumstances make it impossible to do so. Sometimes nursing home rehabilitation is necessary post-hospital stay. Perhaps a nursing home is needed when a senior needs 24/7 care and senior care costs are too high to hire at-home care.

So how do you choose a nursing home? If you’ve looked at all other long-term care options and have decided that a nursing home is the best choice for you or your loved one, you need to do a little homework to make sure the nursing home provides great care. You certainly don’t want to find that your selected nursing home administers less than ideal assistance. The obvious place to start would be geographically. The nursing home should be in an area that makes family visits possible.

After you have a list of nursing homes in your area, you’ll want to check the quality of care that nursing home provides.

Caregiverlist’s Nursing Home Star Ratings is a good place to start. Ratings from 1 to 5 stars are awarded based on criteria from the nursing homes health inspection report. But because nursing home inspections are only conducted once every 12 to 15 months, we recommend this only as a starting point. The overall Caregiverlist Nursing Home Star Ratings are calculated by taking into account the nursing home’s Medicare Rating (Overall Medicare Star Rating: 20%), Bed Sore Rating (Percent of Short-stay Residents with Bed Sores: 20%), C.N.A. Staff (Certified Nursing Aide Hours per Resident per Day: 40%), and ADL's (Percent of Long-term Residents whose Need for Help with Daily Activities has Increased: 20%). You can then compare the costs of the best possible nursing homes in your chosen area.

Once you have an initial list to work with, it’s a good idea to visit the nursing home. There are judgements you can make only if you see the facility with your own eyes.

Nursing home safety is a primary concern. Is there enough staff to assist those with special needs? Staff-to-patient ratio is extremely important. Do the facilities look safe? Frayed rugs can cause falls. Is the nursing home clean? There should be no odors of urine or feces. Are the residents clean and well-groomed?

What activities are available to residents? Are there social physical and educational activities available? Does the nursing home offer additional meals and snacks? Are there visits from community groups and outside excursions possible?

Is there high staff turnover? That can be a warning sign that staff is dissatisfied, which could translate into poor care.

Are family visits allowed any time (within reason)? No one should have to “schedule” a visit. An open visitation policy means the nursing home has nothing to hide.

Talk to the residents and ask them about the staff, the meals, the activities. Consider what special care needs may be required, such as care for memory loss, and if the nursing home provides these specialized services. Finally, if you see something troubling on any of your visits, your state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman is the primary advocate for a nursing home resident’s quality of life.

While the thought of moving to a nursing home can be stressful for the entire family, with a little due diligence, you are sure to find a safe and comfortable environment for long term care.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for the Senior Mom

The day my daughter was born — my firstborn — I held her in my arms, looked into her eyes and fell deeply and unbelievable in love. Then I picked up the phone, called my mother, and apologized for every rotten thing I had ever done to her (especially during my teenage years.)

You certainly don’t need to be a mother to celebrate your mother. If you are lucky enough to have mom or a grandmother around to honor, we have a few suggestions that go beyond Chanel No. 5 (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Peace of Mind
If you mother lives alone (over 80% of American women outlive their male spouses), making sure she’s safe can be a great gift. Senior-proof the home to help prevent falls. Buy her a Medical Alert system. Technology is a beautiful thing and some systems come equipped with GPS tracking if your mother is a senior on the go.

Stay in Touch
The best cell phones for seniors have have large buttons that are easy to read and a high contrast LED screen. Look for amplified sound and, in some cases, urgent care monitoring, similar to the response she’d receive through an alert system. Two of the most popular cell phones especially made for seniors are Snapfon and Jitterbug with 5Star Urgent Response (which is running a Mother’s Day promotion for $20 off.)

I’ve recently set my mother up to Skype her family halfway around the world. At 83, she believes her flying days are over, but she is always delighted to speak with her brother in Poland face-to-face.

Preserve Memories
Remember when photos were printed on paper? Most seniors have boxes and albums full of memories, but they may be difficult to get to. Scan those photos and present them to her on a digital photo frame. She can watch her favorite memories play on a continuous loop.

A Little Help Here?
Many times we find our schedules so hectic, we forget that the elderly mom might need a little help with day-to-day activities. Perhaps she could use help with shopping, light housekeeping, or simple companionship. You can hire a fully vetted and bonded companion caregiver for just a few hour per week through a quality home care agency.

Time
Let’s face it — the best present you can give is your presence. Stuff is just stuff. If you can, spend a little time with your mother this holiday and show her what she means to you.

Cargiverlist® wishes all the mothers and grandmothers out there a happy Mothers Day. If you have some special gift suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Caregiver Support Translates to Saved $$

Caregiver stress can have debilitating consequences on senior caregivers. Reports show that family caregivers tend to experience anxiety, loss of sleep, and become ill more frequently than their non-caregiving counterparts. An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease in 2014. Seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease require increasing assistance with basic activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting. These individuals eventually need around-the-clock care. Because of that, their family caregivers find themselves especially overwhelmed. When caregivers feel they can no longer cope, patients are more likely to be placed in institutional settings such as nursing homes.

Costs of Nursing Home Placement
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2014 the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer's will total an estimated $214 billion, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Alzheimer's will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion (in today's dollars) in 2050.

Medicare covers short-term skilled care up to 100 days the first 20 days are covered at 100% and from day 21 to day 100 the patient (or their family) has a daily co-pay. Medicaid is a state/federal program that does pay the cost of nursing home care for eligible individuals, however the patient must meet income and resource requirements. 

Families’ and patients’ total out of pocket costs for nursing home care in 2014 is estimated at $36 billion.

Image Source: Alzheimer’s Association

If we can delay the nursing home placement of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, can substantial money be saved? If Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are aging in place longer, doesn’t that mean more stress (and its inherent problems) for family caregivers?

States are seeking to provide real and meaningful support for patients and their caregivers. Many states are looking to increase their funding for community-based programs to support individuals and families facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, and in doing so, significantly reduce their state’s Medicaid costs. Recently, Minnesota determined it could save almost $1 billion in Medicaid over the next decade if the state adopted a new dementia caregiver support model, according to a study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. That support model was introduced by a program called New York University Caregiver Intervention (NYUCI).

New York University Caregiver Intervention (NYUCI) is a counseling and support intervention for spouse caregivers that is intended to improve the well-being of caregivers and delay the nursing home placement of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The program also aims to help spouse caregivers mobilize their social support network and help them better adapt to their caregiving role.

The program consists of four components:

  • Two individual counseling sessions of 1 to 3 hours tailored to each caregiver's specific situation,
  • Four family counseling sessions with the primary caregiver and family members selected by that caregiver,
  • Encouragement to participate in weekly, locally available support groups after participation in the intervention, and
  • Ad hoc counseling, counseling provided by telephone to caregivers and families whenever needed to help them deal with crises and the changing nature of their relative's symptoms.The program is delivered by counselors with advanced degrees in social work or allied professions.

In addition, many states are seeking increased funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Community Assistance Program (AlzCAP), which provides educational initiatives and caregiver respite programs. Paired with funded public awareness campaigns, the hope is that by addressing and getting in front of the challenges of the family caregiver, the length of time before placing a care recipient into a nursing home setting can be extended, saving everyone a lot of money.

What would help you, as a caregiver, reduce your stress and help care for a family member longer? If you or someone you know is overwhelmed with the task of senior caregiving, Caregiverlist® suggests you consider the possibility of hiring respite care from a quality senior home care agency.

Older Americans Month: Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

Professional caregivers know that the primary responsibility they have to their senior client is to keep them safe and healthy. This entails keeping them mentally and physically (within capabilities) active, well-nourished, but perhaps most importantly, injury-free.

May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme, Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow, is focused on injury prevention. Older adults are at a much higher risk of unintentional injury and even death than the rest of the population.

Senior fall prevention can be the first line of defense in preventing unintentional injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 2010, about 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Community Living hope to raise awareness and help older Americans take control of their safety, thereby living longer and healthier lives.

Older Americans Month was established by President John F. Kennedy in May of 1963, after meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens. At that time, there were 17 million Americans aged 65 and above. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the designation to “Older Americans Month.“ In 2012, the census bureau counted 43.1 million people who were 65 and older in the United States. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other activities, in order to recognize the contributions of older persons in the community.

Here are some events that are taking place around the country:

Seattle/King County, Washington
A series of short films will be presented in a new festival dedicated to broadening the ways we think about aging.The Healthy Aging Partnership Film Short Festival takes place on Tuesday, May 6, with a reception and screening.

Albany, New York
Senior Citizens' Day 2014 will be held on Tuesday, May 6 at the Hart Theater in the Egg at the Empire State Plaza. The ceremony will honor older citizens from around New York State, with a focus on those who have lent their expertise to their communities through volunteerism.

Evanston, Illinois
The 16th Annual Aging Well Conference is a free half-day conference on May 9 providing strategies for healthy aging for older adults, their families, caregivers and professionals. The conference includes a continental breakfast and a choice of two workshops.

Nationwide
National Senior Health & Fitness Day is held nationwide on the last Wednesday in May during Older Americans Month. Over 1,000 locations across the nation will hold health and fitness events. 2014 marks the 21st year of the program.

For information on events, workshops, and in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or call 1(800) 677-1116 to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans. You can also keep up with the latest events and news by following #OAM2014 on Twitter.

A great way to keep seniors safe is to make sure their caregivers are qualified. Caregiverlist recommends working with a quality home care agency in order to assure that the caregiver has received qualified caregiver training such as the training and certification offered by Caregiverlist Training University’s Basic Caregiver Training. Home care agencies also routinely perform background checks and drug testing prior to employment.

Taking Back the Boston Marathon

I will never forget the 2013 Boston Marathon. I am not a runner but my husband is, and I can imagine someday cheering him on at the 26 mile mark. What I can’t image, though, is what the wives, husbands, and children of Boston Marathon participants went through in 2013, when two bombs exploded at the finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 260.

Bill Iffrig was 78 years old when he was knocked down by the force of the explosion at the finish line of that Boston Marathon. It’s been reported that, once he felt the shockwaves of the blast, his legs turned to "noodles" and he knew he was going down. The man in the orange vest then got up after the blasts and ran the few yards left to the finish line. The photo of him in the street with members of the Boston Police Department first responders is now famous. Although he didn’t run this year, Mr. Iffrig is contemplating running in next year’s race, when he is 80 years old.

Photo Credit: Boston Globe

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, held since 1897, and hosts tens of thousands of runners competing in a timed 26.2 miles course. The race is traditionally held on Patriot’s Day, the third Monday in April and the day commemorating the “shot heard round the world” — the initial engagement of the American Revolution.

“It’s what we always do on Patriots’ Day,” Monday’s race announcer said. “We run, and we run, and we run.”

Meb Keflezighi won this year’s Boston Marathon and is the first American man to win since 1983. American Lisa Rainsberger won the women’s title in 1985. Twice the usual number of observers (over one million) came out to support more than 35,000 runners. Heightened security included 3,500 uniformed and undercover police officers, bomb squads and tactical units.

This year, Team Red Cross 2014 participant Jessica Jones of Hull, MA decided to run after she was impressed at how quickly the Red Cross sprung to action last year. Prior to becoming a RN, she started her career in healthcare through a Red Cross C.N.A. training program.

As the Washington Post reported, Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, host of the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, said the slogan the city has adopted since the bombing, “Boston Strong,” means “to be borne on by an inner and enduring strength, and it means, above all, that we never, ever give in to anything.” Caregiverlist congratulates all those involved for taking back the Boston Marathon as we remember and honor those who were were tragically (and in some cases, gravely) injured in last year's race, along with their caregivers.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo was taken at Kew Gardens in London, England, and shows the remarkable beauty of the first burst of spring.  Feel free to share this photo with your loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools. Have a great week.  

 

"Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom."   Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Caregiver Pay: Are You Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

America’s minimum wage debate continues to spark conflict. The Federal minimum wage proposal has stalled in Congress, languishing while both sides of the aisle dispute the law’s costs and benefits, pitting low income (mostly female) earners against beleaguered small business owners and big business profit margins.  Caregiver pay remains higher than minimum wage but can still be a challenge - take the survey at the bottom of this post.

The HBO Documentary: Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert puts a name to the face of the female low-wage earner. Ms. Gilbert is a Certified Nursing Assistant, working 40 hours per week in a Tennessee nursing home, raising three children as a single woman. Filmed over the course of a year in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where minimum wage is $7.25. Gilbert’s hourly wage in the documentary is $9.49 (raised 14 cents an hour two years after filming ended) and is, as the documentary clearly illustrates, far below a comfortable living wage, especially when one is the primary breadwinner for a family of four. Although her job as a C.N.A. is above the minimum wage level, expenses force her to make choices for her family that many of us can imagine needing to make. She regularly gives up filling her own medical prescriptions in order to pay rent, car insurance and daycare. Because she has no paid sick days, if one of the children falls ill and needs to stay home, that loss of income can devastate the family budget. She is full of anxiety when she learns her family will lose its food stamps — the one reliable safety net to ensure all her children are fed.

 

Produced in association with 'The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink’, a multi-platform project is an initiative that “illuminates the day-to-day challenges of millions of working poor women in America today.” 42 million women (one in three) in America and the 28 million children who depend on them are living in poverty or on the brink. Executive producer Maria Shriver, during a live town hall event, remarked to Oprah Winfrey that women like Ms. Gilbert are the new face of poverty. "People who live paycheck to paycheck, they don't look like they're a bum on the street," Shriver says. "They're the person sitting next to you in a cubicle." Shriver’s goal? Building women’s economic empowerment.

Some states are fully cognizant of the needs of the low income wage earner and are taking steps to increase minimum wage regardless of federal mandate.

As Caregiverlist recently reported, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017. Maryland’s House passed a bill that would raise its wage to $10.10 an hour earlier this month, and Hawaii is expected to pass the legislature in April to raise its minimum wage to at least $10 an hour. ThinkProgress.org has provided a handy infographic showing the states that are currently considering a minimum wage increase or have passed one within the last year. Five other states have considered a $10.10 wage and four are looking at $10. People argue that wage would put it in line with where it would be if it had kept up with inflation since the 1960s. And though conservatives argue that higher wages will result in job loss, the following states increased their minimum wage and actually saw higher employment numbers: Rhode Island, Colorado, Montana, Vermont, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Washington, Ohio and New York.

In Europe, Swiss voters will decide a referendum that would create a national minimum wage (there is no minimum wage present now) of 22 Swiss francs ($24.99) per hour. If approved, Switzerland will be home to the highest minimum wage in the world. There too, supporters say “the minimum wage will help elevate the country’s 330,000 mostly female low-wage workers who struggle to make ends meet in the high-priced country.” Elsewhere, Germany recently decided to raise its minimum hourly wage to 8.50 euros ($11.69), and the UK’s will increase to 6.31 pounds ($10.55).

Would the proposed minimum wage hike have any real impact on the life of someone like Ms. Gilbert, detractors ask. “I wouldn’t mind if it was $60,” she says. “Even if it was a tank of gas.” Asked what’s the single economic change would affect her life the most, Ms. Gilbert doesn’t hesitate. “I think that raising the minimum wage… sick days would be great.”

What do you think? Would raising the minimum wage affect your life? What other measures could federal or state governments mandate to make a difference to your quality of life?

TAKE THE CAREGIVER PAY SURVEY 

New Chicken Soup Tackles Alzheimer's, Dementia Care

The numbers on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are staggering. More than 5 million American seniors are living with the Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. More than 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers are women. In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion. It’s no wonder that the publishers at Chicken Soup for the Soul saw the need to provide support and encouragement with their trademark inspirational stories, culled from those at the front line of caregiving.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias: 101 Stories of Caregiving, Coping and Compassion by Amy Newmark is publisher and editor-in-chief of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Angela Timashenka Geiger is Chief Strategy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. After sifting through thousands of admissions, they chose 101 of the best stories for their readers.

Chicago area resident Carrie Jackson became a caregiver to her father, Henry George Jackson Jr. while he was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. She submitted some of her stories for publication and her essay describing a nursing home visit was chosen for inclusion. Life Matters Media was given permission to share an excerpt. Because of this experience (her father passed away in 2012,) Ms. Jackson in now a certified dementia practitioner.

Chicken Soup for the Soul always asks for story and poem submissions for upcoming titles, as they did for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Family Caregiving by Joan Lunden and Amy Newmark. That collection offered support and encouragement for family caregivers of all ages, including the “sandwich” generation caring for a family member while raising their children. Stories are by and about those who are both giving and receiving care.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul, Changing Your World One Story at a Time series began in 1993 by founders and motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. They had a simple idea: that people could help each other by sharing stories about their lives. With over 250 titles and over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series continues to publish first-person stories to “soothe and provide comfort, just like their grandmothers’ cooking.”

Anyone who may have gained experience as a caregiver while caring for a loved one with memory loss may consider becoming a professional senior caregiver by receiving caregiver training and certification. They can then submit a job application to be connected with hiring companies in their area.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias will be released April 22, 2014. You can pre-order here. All royalties from the sale of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the latest numbers regarding Alzheimer’s disease, watch the following video from the Alzheimer's Association: Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures 2014

 

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