Monday, April 20, 2009

The Working Caregiver

A survey recently done at Boston College of 2200 employees ages 17-81 found that the working caregiver caring for an elderly loved one had less flexibility in their work schedule than younger employees caring for children. The older caregiver was hesitant to ask for flexibility and time off when needed to care for an elder. Many felt they could not even talk about the problems and felt they had less job security than the younger employee. Why? Maybe it is because as young mothers and fathers caring for children there is a community based support system in place. There is school, church, sports, and other activities where you go and socialize with other parents. But there are little support systems in place for the older caregiver except for church, friends, or joining a caregiver support group. But many individuals providing eldercare don't feel they need a support group, or feel they don't have time for a support group. But with less community socialization it becomes even more critical for these individuals to join support groups. Without the help of support groups the individual has a greater risk of decreasing performance on the job, and decrease job security. The "burnout" an individual feels affects the care one provides to the elder. There is an increase chance of Elder Abuse due to the stress of caregiving.

The signs of caregiver burnout are not always easy to see. Often the individual just feels fatigued. This often leads to getting to work late, the inability to stay focused on task, the loss of interest in outside activities, and ultimately depression. According a study done by the National Family Caregivers Association, elder caregivers note depression as the number one feeling. All the more reason why employers need to start paying closer attention to employees between the ages of 40-65. Employers need to offer benefits for eldercare, such as flexible work schedules, consultations with Geriatric Care Managers, and education on how to care for elders. Employers can form caregiver support groups onsite for employees.

There is alot of talk but little action. Act now. If you are an employee speak up. Ask your employer for help. Be an advocate for elder caregiving. Tell your employer to contact our organization, Family Caregivers Network, we can help them focus on you, the elder caregiver.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the now the 6th leading cause of death in America. By 2010 there will be more than 500,000 new individuals diagnosed with Alzheimers each year. And right now there are more than 5.3 million individuals with the disease. The need for hands on care is so great that families are loosing time from work to care for loved ones. The safety of an individual with Alzheimer's disease becomes the number one issue for families. Individuals forget simple tasks such as cooking, turning off a stove, or they may put metal into a microwave. Yet families take too long to make the decisions to keep their loved one safe. Usually an accident occurs before action is taken. We know that healthcare costs are 3 times higher for people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia's than for other individuals age 65 and over. Understanding how to obtain help and how to pay for help can be confusing. The best thing you can do for your loved one with Alzheimer's disease is to plan ahead. From the moment you learn of the disease you need to start planning. Learn about what care options are available to you. Anticipate the costs and find resources to pay for them. And obtain support through a support group or network of others battling the disease with their loved one. To find out more information go to the Alzheimer's Association. Learn the 10 signs of Alzheimer's disease. Family Caregivers Network offers many educational videos's and resources to families at no cost. To find out more information contact one of our geriatric specialists for a free phone consultation.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Veterans Benefits

Today I attended an educational seminar about the Long Term Care Benefit that Veterans and their spouses are entitled to. It is call the Aid and Attendance Benefit. If you are in need of assistance with Activities of Daily Living such as, bathing, dressing, meals, medication management, doctor appointments, laundry, etc. or plan to go to an Assisted Living or Nursing Home you may receive up to $1949.00 per month towards your LTC finances. That is over $19.000 a year to put towards paying for your long term care help. It is a benefit rarely used. Veterans Administration is usually backlogged with other benefit applications and do not always understand this benefit available to their own Veterans and spouse of Veterans.

Part of the qualifying factors is you must have served during a time of War, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or Golf War. That does not mean serving on the front lines or overseas. You may have been a Veteran and served in the states. It just means you were in the service during wartime. Though you need to complete some forms about your income and healthcare costs, and your assets such as bonds, IRA's, etc. most individuals even with substancial assets can be approved for these benefits.

You need to call today if you are a Veteran or a family member of a Veteran who wishes to find out more information about these benefits. If you don't you are missing out on getting some of your Long Term Care paid for. You earned these benefits, please don't let them slip away. For more info contact our office 866-539-7515 or contact the Veterans Financial 800-835-1541.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Crabby Old Woman-the poem

Everyday in the work I do in eldercare I am reminded the poem written by an anonymous woman in a nursing home in Scotland. It speaks from the heart and soul of a woman who lived a long happy life. Let us remember all elders whether male or female came from somewhere, and have many wonderful stories to share about life. Soak them up, speak kinder to your elders, and don't judge them for their handicaps in aging. You will be there one day.

What do you see, nurses, what do you see, what are you thinking when you're looking at me? A crabby old woman, not very wise, uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply when you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!" Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill. Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see? Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still, as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will. I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother, brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet, dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet. A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap, remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own who need me to guide and a secure happy home. A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast, bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young sons have grown and are gone, but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn. At fifty once more babies play round my knee, again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead; I look at the future, I shudder with dread. For my young are all rearing young of their own, and I think of the years and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old woman and nature is cruel; 'tis jest to make old age look like a fool. The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart, there is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells, and now and again my battered heart swells. I remember the joys, I remember the pain, and I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years - all too few, gone too fast and accept the stark fact that nothing can last. So open your eyes, nurses, open and see, not a crabby old woman; look closer - see ME!