Aging in place is an option more in the senior population want to pursue. There’s no place quite so comfortable as one’s own home and community. However, according to AARP, nearly one-third of all Americans over 65 experiences a fall in the home. There are other safety issues that make staying in the home a challenge and the initial accident prevention costs might be off-putting. But in the long run, the costs can be far less to stay home and renovate than to move into Assisted Living.
Senior-proofing the home is much like childproofing the home. Both encourage you to do a room-by-room assessment of potential and hidden hazards. Both take into account the physical limitations their subjects may encounter. And in both instances, safety in independence is key. But do everyone a favor and, for the senior crowd, don’t lock the toilet seat.
Elder home-proofing suggestions abound on the internet, but the most thorough and comprehensive guide to home safety I’ve found comes to us from our friends at AARP. Their AARP Home Fit Guide goes into great depth discussing home livability, home safety and home maintenance to help keep the estimated 83% of seniors who would like to, age at home.
Fall prevention is a huge concern when it comes to seniors living alone. Getting rid of scatter or throw rugs throughout the home, lighting dim passageways, installing shower and toilet grab bars, keeping passageways clear of clutter and wiring, all contribute to fall prevention in the home. If your home needs renovation, contact your state’s Department on Aging for information on available senior home modification services.
Senior safety is addressed outside the home as well as in. Make sure medication dosages are kept current. Visit the eye doctor to gauge general as well as peripheral vision.
Owning a good Medical Alert System, as we’ve written before, is vital. In addition to providing real help in case of an accident or fall, simply possessing such a device can contribute to peace of mind for older adults who live alone.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) can be brought to the home to conduct a full assessment to help maximize an accessible living environment. Also, look for a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders to help with recommending home modifications to help age in place.
Taking preventative steps such as these, along with the help of a family or professional caregiver, can go a long way to help an independent lifestyle a viable senior option.
In this second of two blog posts, contributor Renata JL talks about saving your sanity and creating a balance while living in the Sandwich Generation.
My mother is an eighty-something year old widow who is relatively healthy and vital enough to live on her own. I started my family a little later in life, so my two children are still in elementary school. That means that I am, many times, caught in the middle, caring for both ends of my family’s generational spectrum. Most of the time, I like to think that I handle the pressures of care with efficiency and aplomb. But sometimes, especially during a health crisis, I find myself stretched pretty thin. And I know I’m not alone. Welcome to the world of the Sandwich Generation.
The term “Sandwich Generation” was first coined in by journalist Carol Abaya in 2006 to describe the growing segment of society simultaneously caring for both their children and their aging parents.
In a previous post, I wrote about my aging mother’s unexpected trip to the hospital and my subsequent scrambling to make sure all of my responsibilities would be met. It turns out her hospital stay (with its requisite daily visits) was not the ideal situation, but between Medicare and her insurance, the cost of her care was minimal and she had the around-the-clock attention she required. As her release date approached, we were aware that Medicare would pay for the first 20 days in a Skilled Nursing Facility, so with the help of the Caregiverlist’s Nursing Home Star Ratings system, we were able to find her a quality Nursing Home in her area. When those initial days are complete, the real challenges of being a member of the Sandwich Generation begin.
There is, of course, the financial stress involved with caring for my children and my parent, while planning for my own retirement. In this economy, I fully expect that I will need to help support my children for a longer time. Couple that with spiralling living costs, and I’m not sure how much I will have left over to help cover the costs of caring for mom, whether through the costs associated with Assisted Living or Senior Home Care. While the financial costs and responsibilities are fairly cut-and-dried, the emotional stress is the one that can really take its toll. Resentments can easily build between siblings dividing responsibilities, children losing the attentions of a parent to grandparent, and the senior realizing their diminishing independence. There are things that I plan to do to help prevent, or at least alleviate some of the stress involved with generational caring.
Here are some suggestions I found helpful:
Don’t Go It Alone
According to AARP, 29% of adult Americans spend 20 hours per week on caring for their parent(s). This growing demographic means and increased presence on the internet. Web sites catering to the Sandwich Generation abound. Look to them for ideas and support. Sites like sandwichgeneration.org, and AARP have a wealth of information about resources and support.
Talk About It
Gather family together, including children, parents, spouses. If you have siblings (even those living distantly), request that everyone participate in the plan of action. Communication is key and my help minimize or prevent feelings of resentment. Encourage everyone to voice their concerns and work together to find solutions.
Don’t Forget About You
If you are the primary caregiver for both children and parent(s), it may be difficult to carve out time for yourself, especially if you work outside the home as well. Although it may be difficult, you must treat the care you give yourself with as much gravity as the care you give to others. If you are fatigued, depressed or fall ill, you won’t be able to care for those around you. This one rings especially true because, as you know, we here at Caregiverlist are big advocates of “Caring for the Caregiver”.
The future will be demanding, I’m sure. I feel a little like I felt before giving birth, knowing that I would soon be entrusted to care for another human being and not sure if I was up to the task. That worked out somehow — some days are more demanding than others — but with the help of my family, my community and Caregiverlist’s resources, I hope to rise to the challenge of my new caregiver role with as much grace as I’m able to muster.
senior, care, SandwichGeneration, family caregiving
We at Caregiverlist, along with the rest of the world, were deeply saddened by the December 14th, 2012 events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, CT. We offer our sincerest condolences to all those affected — family, friends, neighbors. This tragedy reminds us that, in the midst of all the challenges we face as part of the Sandwich Generation, we are truly lucky to have the ongoing opportunity to care for our loved ones.
Senior caregivers often have the challenge of updating family members on the senior's activities or, they may be working with seniors who have very busy adult children and may need efficient ways to keep updated on care services. Technology provides new ways to connect caregivers and seniors with family members.
Instagram brings an easy-to-use photo album to everyone's finger tips and can assist caregivers in communicating.
A picture is worth a thousand words and caregivers can share those pictures with just a few clicks on their smartphones using the application Instagram. People use their smartphones to take pictures and want to share them in real time - without having to wait to connect their device to a computer and upload it. Instagram allows this to happen and creates a feed of photos that have been uploaded for every user. For caregivers, Instagram provides the opportunity to document their time with their senior clients.
Four Uses of Instagram for Senior Caregivers:
Document Shared Hobbies or Activities with a Senior Client. Taking on a project such as learning how to knit can create a bond with your senior client and you can use Instagram when you finish your projects to showcase your work. Also, if you go for a walk, visit a museum or just enjoy making a flower arrangement together, you can take a photo and share this with the senior's family members. After a few months, you'll have a collection of photos to look through and see your own progress. When family members come to visit, they can also view the senior's activities.
- Share Photos with a Senior Client's Adult Children. Your senior client may not be plugged into the technological world but if their adult children have smartphones, you can use Instagram to post photos for them to see. In return, you can also share photos the children post to their own profiles with your senior client so that the parent can feel connected to their adult childrens' daily lives. Caregivers can even help senior clients exchange comments back and forth on their children's photos.
- Edit Photo's without Photo Editing Software. Add an extra touch to photos without needing to learn photo editing software. Instagram offers various “filters” for photos. All you have to do is take the picture then pick from different
colorations and frame options. It adds an extra flair to preserve a moment exactly as you want it to look.
- Document a Day in the Senior's Life. Many people use instagram almost like a photo journal of their day. Caregivers are often under-appreciated because their work is not visible to many people, but Instagram provides an opportunity to document your day. Try taking a picture at the start of every hour for one day if you want to share more about what you do with someone in your life.
Instagram is available for iPhones and iPod Touch. The application also was recently introduced to Android model phones as well, so most smartphone users can take advantage of the quick photo sharing provided for free.
Senior caregivers can now have an instant photo album in their phone, all for free.
seniorcare, Instagram, caregiver
Guest Blog Post by Baby Boomers Planning for Retirement
Time passes quickly by, and the day of your retirement is drawing near. Will you be prepared or will you still be thinking about planning for retirement?
senior, retirement planning, retirement saving
"According to Scottrade's fifth annual American Retirement Survey, 60 percent of Gen Y-ers saved nothing toward retirement last year and 40 percent plan to save nothing in 2011." Is this your situation? Not planning for retirement, is a recipe for disaster. You cannot count on Social Security providing for all your needs in your golden years. It was never intended that Social Security would be a retirement pension. It was designed to be a supplement to your savings.
Like a three legged stool, if one leg is missing, you do not have a stable seat. Savings is one very important leg of your retirement planning stool. The sooner you begin saving a minimum of 10% of your annual income, the larger your retirement income will be.
Time, saving money, and the power of compounding of interest will work miracles for your retirement years.
Consider this scenario. Who do you think would have more money saved for retirement? Person A saves a mere 5% of his gross salary of $40,000, or $2,000 for forty years and invests it for a return on investment of 10% annually. Or, person B who gets a late start and saves $5,500 annually for twenty years also at 10% R.O.I.?
Person A would save and earn a grand total of $885,185.11. Person B would only accumulate $315,012.50 before taxes. Had Person A saved and invested a full 10% of his salary, he would have accumulated a grand total of $1,770,370.22!
When planning for retirement, the sooner you start and consistently contribute to your savings and investment plan, the better off you will be in your retirement years.
If you have a 401(K) Plan where you work, you should take full advantage of this plan. Often employers will also contribute a portion based on your contribution. This is an additional boost to your savings.
If you do not have an employer 401(K) plan, you must start either a standard IRA or a Roth IRA. Your savings will grow tax free under the Roth IRA plan under current rules.
In November 2008, there were articles that appeared that Democrats in the House of Representatives were conducting hearings on the proposals to confiscate all IRAs and 401(K)s. These accounts would be converted to accounts administered by the Social Security Administration.
In light of the debt crisis, this Draconian measure cannot be ruled out by a cash strapped government. The wise investor will not put all of their investment eggs in one basket or account type. You might consider hiring an asset protection attorney to protect your IRA from government confiscation.
Planning for retirement begins with a savings plan. All good investors are good savers. You should learn how to invest. Stansberry & Associates Investment Research offers excellent newsletters that will teach you the essentials of wise investing. I have found them to be a great asset.
Once you have an investment plan in place, I would also recommend that you plan for your health issues for your latter years. Most people will need some assistance in their last years. One way to pay for assisted living care or a nursing home, is to purchase a Long Term Care insurance policy that covers these expenses.
The average number of years a man needs assisted living is two years. A woman needs a minimum of three years. Remember, that is just an average. Some residents with dementia have been committed for as long as ten years.
Planning for retirement early will help you have a comfortable and financially secured retirement under normal conditions.
For more articles on Planning for Retirement consult www.Baby-Boomers-Planning-For-Retirement.com.
And to get an idea of your area's nursing home costs, take a look at Caregiverlist's Nursing Home Star-Ratings and Costs.
Senior caregiving pays more in fulfillment than in cash, but it seems there are exceptions.
Private duty nurse Hadassah Peri receives $38 million, left to her in the will of her client, 104-year-old Huguette Clark who was the daughter of a Montana senator who was once the second wealthiest man in the U.S.A.
The New York Post reported that Clark chose to leave money which was left over from her donation to a charity for the arts only to her accountant, lawyer, physician, goddaughter and caregiver. She said her private duty nurse was a loyal companion and friend to her and she saw her more in 20 years than any other person. She had a total of about $400 million and alos a Claude Monet Water Lillies series painting that will be donated to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Experience the fulifillment of caregiving by working as a professional caregiver - and just remember these instances are exteremely rare but the better inheritance is knowing you assisted someone to have a better day (you know, lots of money causes lots of problems anyway).
Caregiverlist also provides job descriptions for caregivers and a directory of nursing aide schools.