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3 Important Points to Help Fight Caregiver Stress

3 Important Points to Help Fight Caregiver Stress

caregiver stress worry

Caregiver stress: a problem that we believe everyone needs to put more attention and emphasis on. The gravity of this issue is massive, that one in three caregivers has been reported as depressed. And with approximately 43.5 million individuals caring for an older adult, the fear of losing out to dread is high.

As such, we want to take this opportunity for care recipients, baby boomers, and caregivers alike to have a deeper understanding of this type of stress. It is our hope that as more people are made aware of this issue, we can all help fight – and prevent – caregiver stress.

Counting the Hours and Months

Individuals who provide custodial care for a longer period of time are more likely to state they are in poor health. Caregivers who provide 20 or more hours of care describe their health condition as poor, with almost half (46%) of higher-hour caregiver respondents to be emotional stressful as well. Also, 20% of caregivers providing care for five years or more have also stated the same description. Correspondingly, the older a caregiver is, the higher the risk of stress and health risks of settling in.

Caregiver Stress is Real Among Families

Family caregivers, or those who look after a spouse or a family member, are more likely to have stress. Married women, in particular, have a higher chance of being exposed to stress than single individuals. Also, complex situations (an example is looking after an Alzheimer’s patient) has a higher level of stress compared to other caregiving situations.

Insurance Coverage Makes a Difference

With caregiving as an essential during the retirement years, certain steps are needed to help these unsung heroes from being placed in situations that’ll induce stress. Purchasing insurance policies, such as Long Term Care Insurance or Medicare Supplemental Plans will provide caregivers a lighter load of a burden to manage. Long Term Care Insurance can help address the custodial care expected amongst boomers; a Medicare Supplement will help in paying for expensive out-of-pocket medical charges.

We can help make a difference by identifying and making the necessary preparations to combat caregiver stress. With all of the services that the majority of caregivers provide for recipients, not to mention their numerous sacrifices, it is high time to give back to these heroes. Make sure to purchase insurance coverage – we all deserve the best.

About the Author:

Leandro Mueller

As the Online Content Director of FreeMedSuppQuotes, Leandro Mueller aims to push for awareness and promotion of the many benefits of the best Medicare Supplement plans in the market. Additionally, he is interested and keen in marketing and advertising strategies. He hopes that his work will help boomers and retirement industry experts alike in their lives.

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Why Are There Not Enough Caregivers To Help The Elderly

connecting the dots

Why Are There Not Enough Caregivers

To Help The Elderly

   By Carole Larkin, ThirdAge Services 

Today we focus on getting help in the home caring for your elderly loved one (with or without dementia).

This is insider information taken from the leading academic journal in the United States called “Generations”. It is produced by the foremost academic and professional organization in America, The American Society on Aging. All content in their journal is researched and documented by the highest credentialed researchers in Aging topics. For more information on “Generations” and the American Society on Aging go to: www.generationsjournal.org and www.asaging.org. All information in quotation marks is directly from the Spring 2016 issue of Generations. (Volume 40 number 1)

Question: Why are there not enough caregivers to help the elderly (with and without dementia)?

Answer: There are a number of reasons why we in the United States are having trouble getting quality help, or sometimes any help at all to care for our loved ones at home.

  • There is a lack of people available to do home care jobs relative to the number of people who need their services. As you’ve heard over and over again, there are a huge amount of baby boomers now getting old enough to need care, added to the fact that people are living longer than they used to, and they also need care. Baby boomers did not have enough children to replace themselves, so there is a much lower population of people of working age (25-54) to tend to older adults who need help. “demand for direct care staff during 2002 through 2012 rose by 917,000, while demand from 2012 through 2022 is projected to be 1.3 million-a 43 percent increase. What is far less visible is a tectonic shift in the supply of the traditional source of the direct care workers: WOMEN ages 25-54. Between 2012 and 2022 the net number of women entering the workforce will be only 227,000, compared to the net demand increase of 1.3 million direct care positions.”
  • And not every person of the 25-54 years old age group is going to become a home care worker, of course. They’ll be any one of a number of other professions, like doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. And there is a much worse shortage of these people in rural areas than in the cities, as younger people continue to desert those areas for better paying jobs in the urban areas.
  • Added to all that, the home care jobs themselves are low quality jobs. Very often the pay is low, there are no benefits like health care, or, work schedules are unpredictable and are mostly part-time. “Thus, it is difficult to recruit paraprofessionals from other low wage jobs when those jobs make fewer demands, and pose less risk for injury, or emotional and physical strain.” (Think McDonalds, Walmart, etc.)

Question: What can be done to help fix this situation?

Answer: Well, the most obvious answer is of course to give the home care workers higher pay, more benefits and a more predictable schedule. That would immediately attract more people to those jobs.

Question: Can that be done?

Answer: Aha, now we enter the heart of the matter. Well, in the past and continuing through this moment, there has been no political or societal will to change things. There has been and still is, no value given to the services that home care workers perform for us.

  • Society gets care for free from family members. The thought is why pay others to do the same job and certainly why pay them even more to do the same job? Society takes both sets of care for granted in the past, and even today. Elderly, sick and disabled people don’t contribute to our Gross National Product, so they are a negative force as opposed to a positive force in our economy. There can be no value given to those who care for them. Everyday people would have to change their minds and decide there is value in caring for our elderly, diseased and disabled as opposed to seeing it as a drain on our society. I don’t see that change in attitude happening any time soon. Do you?
  • All the groups in society who can effect change (called “stakeholders”) and who pay for caregivers have no desire to REALLY change the way things are. These “stakeholders” are “Policy makers (the government and politicians), insurers (health insurance companies), employers, and consumers (regular people).” Oh, government may hold hearings, insurance companies may issue a few long term care policies that pay towards agency caregivers, a few employers allow benefits towards caregiving, consumers complain of having no help, but don’t do anything but complain about it. But really none of those things significantly affect the status quo.
  • The government tried to improve pay for a substantial number of homecare workers by having the Department of Labor include them as part of the general workforce for the first time, giving them the right to receive the minimum wage and receive overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week starting January 1, 2015.The Home Care Association of America (both home care companies paid by Medicare and/or Medicaid and home care companies paid by individuals) sued the Department of Labor to stop the rule from being implemented. They lost. The Supreme Court ruled on October 13, 2015 and set enforcement to start 30 days later.

(November 12, 2015.)

  • The companies got around the rule (for the most part) by reducing their caregivers’ hours to less than 40 hours a week, effectively making them part-time employees, not subject to overtime. To be fair, some private companies did ask their clients if they would pay overtime costs to keep their same caregivers over 40 hours a week. Few families decided to pay more money to the caregiving companies, opting to have more caregivers come to their houses to cover caregiving tasks if they had more than 40 hours caregiving time in a week. For many families with a person with dementia, this caused more confusion and upset for the person with dementia suddenly having a stream of people coming in to care for them, instead of just 1 or 2 persons a week. Either way, by homecare company choice, or by family choice, those most vulnerable were hurt. This devaluing of the person with dementia and of the caregiver is happening now, and will continue into the future because there is nothing in place to change it.

So, in summary, expect things on this front to get worse before they get better (if ever) because of a lack of people to do the job, and because the people who do the job are overworked and underpaid. In this instance, it’s fair to say that we are getting what we are paying for.   Are you ready to pay more to get quality caregiving? Think about that.

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   Carole Larkin with ThirdAge Services  third_age_services_logo

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Businesses To Go Dementia Friendly In Watertown, Wisconsin

Businesses Go Dementia Friendly

in Watertown, Wisconsin to

Serve Rapidly Growing Segment of Consumer Market

Watertown, WI – What would you do if you were diagnosed with a disease that would eventually rob you of your memory? What if there was no cure and no timetable for how long you would live with the disease. The friends and family you know and love would become strangers. Simple tasks such as going to the grocery store, the bank or even out to a restaurant would become an ordeal and frustrating; maybe even humiliating.

Based on statistics published by the Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently 5.3 million Americans (and 35.6 million people worldwide) living with Alzheimer’s disease this year and a new diagnosis is made every 70 seconds. In WI alone, there is an estimated 110,000. With the first baby boomers soon entering the pool of those at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), there are many challenges ahead. By 2050 the number is expected to reach 16 million in the U.S.

The way Jan Zimmerman, RN, Administrator of Heritage Homes Assisted Living and Memory Care in Watertown, WI and Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks see it, we have a choice – we can either sit idly by or we can change the way society views those who have the dementia.

Zimmerman and La Bey a global expert on dementia from Minnesota; will kick off a “Dementia Friendly Campaign.” On October 15, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at Madison College located on 1300 West Main Street in Watertown, an educational session will be offered free to the community to let people know why it is important to be aware of the needs of someone living with dementia and tips on how they can be a part of a dementia friendly community.

On October 16, 2013 at 10 a.m. at Connections Café in Watertown, La Bey will attend the grand opening of the Memory Café, an informal social gathering where those with dementia and those who support them can gather to enjoy the camaraderie of others with dementia.

“Our goal is to create awareness among business owners and employees that people who have dementia are still a vital part of community,” Zimmerman says. “The only thing that is unique is that they may have to be approached in a more sensitive manner.”

Zimmerman and her staff will provide education to Watertown’s business community to give business owners and employees the tools to effectively assist those with dementia. For example, Zimmerman will educate restaurant workers to limit the number of choices that are presented to a guest.

“Think about what the average person goes through at a restaurant,” Zimmerman says. “The server introduces him or herself, asks if we want a glass of wine or perhaps a beer or soft drink, then they might tell us about that day’s specials. That’s a lot of information to take in even if you don’t have dementia. If you do have dementia, it’s way too much to process.”

“Employees in the food industry, financial services or banking – really any business that has a high number of transactions that take place rapidly – need to recognize someone with dementia, slow down, and limit that number of questions and choices.”

Zimmerman adds that part of her vision is to have identification cards available for those with dementia or their support persons, which can be presented when at a restaurant or bank, for example, so employees will instantly know they need to change their service approach. It is a more subtle way to let people know that additional help is needed should the person wish to share that information.

To achieve this goal, Zimmerman is hoping to create a vibrant, active coalition of businesses, those living with dementia and community members who support those with dementia. The Watertown Dementia Aware Coalition is one of the first steps to creating an inclusive community.

Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks says, “Changing how communities and businesses approach and work with someone with dementia will have a huge impact not only for the person with dementia, but family caregivers and employees as well.  Better service is good for everyone involved.”

“Imagine being limited as to where you can go because of a disease.  We have built ramps for those with mobility issues, now it is time to build ramps on an emotional and psychological basis to allow those with dementia to engage in their communities.”

To help businesses start the journey to becoming one of the first dementia aware communities in the United States, Heritage Homes is hosting the free event, “Watertown: Dementia Aware, Dementia Friendly”. The goal is to let businesses know what they can do to remove the stigma of having a diagnosis of dementia and enabling those with dementia remain a vital part of the community. Heritage Homes is asking businesses to:

  1. Sign a pledge committing the business to learning more about how to help employees become more dementia aware.
  1. Assess their business environment to see how it can be made more dementia friendly and easier to navigate for a person with memory loss.
  1. Join the Watertown Dementia Awareness Coalition to let people know that the business supports those with dementia and the persons who support them.
  1. Display The Purple Angel in the business windows to let people know that the business is dementia aware and dementia friendly.

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  1. Encourage employees to attend training sessions and read informational material by the Watertown Dementia Awareness Coalition.

Space is limited

If you are interested in attending on Tuesday, October 15 at 6:30 p.m., please RSVP to Jan Zimmerman, Administrator at 920-567-2001 or send an email to jrzimmerman@tlha.org.

About Heritage Homes

lutheran home assoc logo

Heritage Homes offers independent living and assisted living. There is a dedicated unit for those with dementia and other related memory loss diagnoses.  Located at 700 Welsh Road in Watertown, Heritage Homes is owned and operated by The Lutheran Home Association. For more information, please visit www.myheritagehomes.org or www.tlha.org.

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About Alzheimer’s Speaks

Alzheimer’s Speaks is US based advocacy group that provides education and support for those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Their vision is to shift caregiving from crisis to comfort by removing the fear and providing economical services, tools, concepts and products to those in need.  Alzheimer’s Speaks believes collaborative and alternative approaches push society forward in search for answers and so they provide a variety of platforms and forums to educate and shift our dementia care culture for professionals, family caregivers and the public at large.  By working together and sharing knowledge, Alzheimer’s Speaks feels we can win the battle against this disease. For more information please visit http://www.AlzheimersSpeaks.com

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