What is the difference between a nurse and a caregiver? A Guest Post by Tess Pajaron

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What is the difference between a nurse and a caregiver? If you’re asking yourself this question it’s likely that a parent or other elderly loved one is in need of some additional support. Or maybe you’re looking into career opportunities in the care of seniors. In either case, the difference between a nurse and a caregiver is an important distinction to determine before you make any important decisions.

Here is some information to help answer your question:

Nurse
Qualifications: The qualifications required to be a nurse depend upon the kind of nurse you’re looking at becoming or employing. Enrolled nurses have to study for two years at a Registered Training Organisation. Registered nurses have to study for three years at a university. The former is seen as practical training whilst the latter also encompasses some of the theory behind nursing and medical care. Becoming an enrolled nurse is usually seen as a stepping stone between working as a caregiver and working as a registered nurse.

Tasks: Both enrolled nurses and registered nurses are trained to perform medical tasks and procedures. They can put in an IV to help deliver medication or food, they can care for wounds and manage medication.They often also manage the non-medical aspects of a patient’s care including bathing and trips to the bathroom.

Where do they work? Nurses have great scope when it comes to deciding where they want to work. They can work at hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and in patients’ homes.

Caregiver
Qualifications: A caregiver often doesn’t need any formal qualifications but they are usually trained in CPR and emergency first aid. Whilst you don’t need to study to be a caregiver, you do need to possess certain qualities, including patience, compassion and resourcefulness.

Tasks: A caregiver can assist with the day to day activities of an elderly person. They help people to achieve tasks that age or illness prevent them from doing independently whilst remaining in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. This could be going to the toilet, bathing, dressing or eating. Caregivers may help with shopping and cleaning the house if a person has limited mobility. Some caregivers will also provide emotional support and companionship, essential for people who are isolated or infirm as a result of their increasing years.

Where do they work? Caregivers are usually employed to work in the home of the patient they are caring for.

Other Useful Information
For Relatives: If your loved one has medical requirements such as a wound or a need for ongoing medication assessment but they want to remain in their own home, then you’ll need to hire a nurse to take care of them. If they just need some support with daily tasks and personal care, you can look for a caregiver. Because a caregiver doesn’t require any qualifications, they are generally cheaper to employ than a nurse.

For Job Seekers: If you want to provide companionship and practical support to elderly people, work as a caregiver could be for you. However, if you want to provide more in depth medical care, looking into nursing qualifications is a good place to start. As a nurse you’ll have greater earning potential and a wider scope of job opportunities too.

Understanding the distinction between a nurse and a caregiver is really important when setting out on a career path or finding the best available care for your loved one. Once you know which job title is of interest, do further research to ensure you make the right decision.

 

Tess Pajaron

With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and marketing.

Healthy Perspectives: Fearful? Have a little FAITH! A Guest Post by Carol Patterson, MSN, RN

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Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1933 inaugural address said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This seems to be something that we probably take too lightly.  Over the years reflecting upon this quotation, it becomes increasingly meaningful.  Fear prevents us from fulfilling our potential (fear of failure is completely paralytic) and moves us away from a state of tranquility and peacefulness of mind and spirit. Consider what happens when a child sees a puddle of water on a cool autumn day. They run to it to stomp and play with carefree abandon.  As adults, we think about our feet getting wet and cold, damaging our shoes, diminishing the immune system and getting ill. So, we avoid the puddle in any way possible. Ah, now we are safe, but did we miss the joy of allowing the child within us to enjoy the moment? So, I wonder, “How healthy is that decision?” Fear robs us in many ways, which diminish are ability to live life to the fullest.

One can become a master of building fears into our everyday existence.  Years ago, someone shared the acronym for FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real.  How often do we allow fear to become an unnecessary negative emotional drain? About a year ago, my computer system “lost” all my professional e-mail files. This sent me into a weekend long panic until I could see our campus technician. Well, that was an unfounded fear, for he quickly resolved the problem on Monday morning. But, the amount of negative emotional investment I made over this situation was enormous.  Reflecting on that weekend, I can remember all the dread I had about files that “I could not live without” causing my body and mind undue stress. By Sunday night I had considered all the ways that this permanent file loss would adversely change the course of my professional and personal life, False Evidence Appearing Real.

When we are fearful, it causes other changes not just intrapersonally but interpersonally as well. Intrapersonally fear helps us build a barrier to confine our hopes and dreams, limiting our possibilities. Our sense of self diminishes, and we lose confidence in the value of who we are and what we could become. Fear acts as a natural antagonist to hope. As we look at the origins of illnesses or recovery from illness or accidents a sense of hopefulness enables more favorable outcomes. Fears negate this positive effect of hope.  Fear also causes problems for us interpersonally. Fear can influence our behaviors, which diminishes our ability to interact effectively with others. Reflecting on the weekend described above, I know that my fears caused anger which was displaced to those around me. Fear will result in an emotional state which can negatively influences our relationships. Our first step, is to recognize the origin of the fear and then to develop a plan to neutralize unwarranted fears. As we do this we “short circuit” those negative behaviors that were caused by fear.

So, what if we develop a new acronym?  Consider, Freedom, Affirmation, Inviting change, Trust & Healing.  First, freeing myself from unnecessary fears, I must first become of aware of these unfounded fears. Identify how many times fear creeps insidiously into our minds and how it influences our decisions. We are not meant to be slaves to fear.  Acknowledging fear is the first step toward freedom. Positive affirmations need to replace our negative ones. The more we think or talk about the fear, the more powerful it becomes. These negative reflections are like throwing gasoline onto a small fire, we feed the fear and it grows. Positive affirmations extinguish the destructive fires of fear. Life gives us the opportunity to make choices about ourselves and our situations. We need to invite change. Being open to a new way of looking at a situation as an opportunity for growth, or as Phyllis Quinlan so aptly calls it, “going through boot camp”.  These challenges provide us with emotional amour to grow through difficult times and becomes stronger. Trust that we are created for something wonderful and important. There is something better coming. Watching a small rabbit during a severe storm recently, this animal took refuge under a large tree. There he quietly watched the storm and patiently waiting for it to end. This small creature showed no fear, trusting that the storm would end. We need to trust that our current circumstances will bring us to a better place where we can grow and thrive, as we have an important purpose in the universe.  Lastly, consider the healing process. Fear is future oriented, creating a scenario which invites us to fabricate all that can possible go wrong in the future. The only thing that is truly real is the here and now. Yesterday is a “done deal” and tomorrow, well that could bring anything, we have no control. But, today, right now that is where we can make things happen. To heal, focus energy on that which we can do right now. Take a small step forward.  Consider the power of a small ray of sun, concentrated over a piece of paper. Despite the narrow ray of light, when focused it can burn through that paper. Use your energy of today to keep your light shining, eradicate those fearful dark places. Eliminate FEAR with FAITH.

 

 

 

Giving Your Caregiver a Game Plan A Guest Post by Maggie Drag

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Nothing makes me happier than hearing about the way our caregivers bring a smile to their clients’ lives. In fact, that is what makes us so dedicated to our work- the men and women that are genuinely excited to spread joy and love wherever they go. After celebrating our 6th Annual Caregiver Party with our most dedicated staff members and caregivers, we felt that it was necessary to bring some inspiration to their daily routine. Here are some tips for each and every caregiver to feel empowered, valued and dedicate themselves to working in “me time” to each and every day.

Better Diet, Better You!

No matter if you are a live-in caregiver or an hourly caregiver, be sure that you are dedicating some time to prepare a hearty, balanced breakfast for yourself each morning. Enjoy your mornings- don’t dread them. You are what you eat, so look up some healthy recipes that you’ve never tried before. Regardless of what others may say, there are so many easy ways to prepare healthy dishes for yourself (especially salads ) that will lift your mood while filling you up with plenty of nutrients. Try preparing rice and different vegetables to have nearby to fill up your lunchbox quickly and to avoid eating junk food on the go.

Get moving!

The best way to stay motivated after getting through your week is to get moving (trust me!) If you love to dance, go to Zumba classes, swim, job, bike – anything, make sure you aren’t putting it off! Not only will you feel better after fitting in a short workout into your day, but you’ll be able to take on the week with much more confidence! If you hate the idea of going to the gym, try this: buy yourself a pair of light weights (preferably 2-5 lbs), soft workout mat and sleek new workout outfit. You can find a great variety of workout gear in fun colors and designs at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. This, plus any workout video on YouTube (from kickboxing to Pilates) = your best workout routine yet. And did we mention that you can do these while you’re on break from your caregiving assignment in the comfort of your own room?

Reach out to your Support Team

Always set some time aside to let the people who care about you know how you’re doing. Make a list of friends and family that you can count on for anything. It can include former clients and even some of your client’s family members that you bonded with over the years. Last but not least, don’t forget the staff at your agency. We, as well as any agency should live for caring for their caregivers.

Embrace your inner and outer beauty

Nothing boosts confidence more than the simple act of taking care of yourself. Of course, putting yourself first takes a bit of time and effort. Whether you have a job or are looking for a caregiver job at the moment, here are some simple ways to rediscover what you love about yourself- inside and out.There’s nothing better than a free makeover at your favorite beauty counter, or a refreshing swim or workout at your local gym. These special moments are known as, “me time”, and you should know that you deserve every minute of it. Besides getting a massage or spa treatment, there are countless ways to pamper yourself at home if you’re on a budget. Since you are on your feet most of the day like many caregivers, treat yourself to a soothing bubble bath try looking up do-it-yourself face masks on YouTube and video guides to meditation and yoga.

What are some ways you as a caregiver or agency motivate yourselves to care for yourself? Comment below, we’d love to hear some of your ideas!

BIO:

Maggie Drag is the owner and founder of a homecare agency located in central Connecticut. With over 27 years of experience in the industry, Maggie shares her knowledge and tips about care at home.  Visit homecare4u.com  to learn more about Maggie Drag.

 

Caregiving For Dementia Patients A Guest Post by Olivia Wolfe

Dementia

Caring for dementia patients can be frustrating and difficult. Because dementia patients are suffering from a brain disorder, basic communication can be a challenge. With that said, we have partnered with Private Home Care in St. Louis to showcase some things that will help you to communicate with people that have dementia effectively. Communication is the key to excellent care.

Get The Patient’s Attention When You Enter The Room

It’s easy for patients with dementia to become disoriented. Even minor surprises can set them on edge. Because of this, it’s important to get the attention of a patient before you interact with them.

Even if the door to the room they are in is open, you should know before entering. You should also call out their name and make sure they see you. If you let them know you are going to be entering the room, they will be prepared to interact with you.

Set A Positive Mood

You should always be pleasant and friendly when you interact with a patient that has dementia. People with dementia often experience significant amounts of anxiety. If you can create a positive environment, you will be able to alleviate that anxiety.

When you greet a patient with dementia, you should greet them with a big smile. Be pleasant and cheerful whenever they ask you questions. If you’re friendly and happy, they will know that they can relax around you.

Keep Things Simple

People with dementia can’t always think quickly. You should use simple words when you are interacting with them. While you shouldn’t necessarily treat a dementia patient like a child, you should try to keep things simple. Work to avoid confusing them.

You don’t need to use medical terminology when talking to them. You should always make your explanations clear and easy to understand. If a dementia patient does not know what is going on, they are going to become anxious. This could cause behavioral issues. Try to keep things simple when you provide care. If the patient can follow what you are doing, they won’t have to worry.

Have Fun With The Patient

While dementia patients may lose some mental abilities, they still have a sense of humor. It’s okay to joke around with a dementia patient from time to time. If you can get them laughing, it will be that much easier for you to get them to relax.

Obviously, you shouldn’t make fun of a dementia patient; you don’t want them to be the butt of your jokes. However, a few simple, lighthearted comments should be enough to set them at ease. You may even be able to get them to make a joke of their own.

Don’t Just Listen With Your Ears

When you’re interacting with a dementia patient, you need to listen to them carefully. It isn’t always easy for people with dementia to express themselves. You need to pay close attention to what they tell you.

However, you shouldn’t just listen with your ears. You should also pay close attention to the way the patient is behaving. If you can see that the patient is anxious or upset, you need to try to address that.

Try to remain focused on the patient you’re caring for at all times. If you pay attention to them, you’ll be able to see what they need. Being receptive to a patient’s needs is an essential part of being a caregiver.

Break Things Down Into Steps

It can be hard for dementia patients to process a lot of information at once. That’s why it’s smart for you to break things down. Instead of overloading them with information, you should present them with one thing at a time.

If you are planning on getting a patient ready for a doctor’s appointment, try breaking down each step of the process. Tell them you are going to brush their teeth, brush their hair, get them dressed, and take them outside. If you handle things one step at a time, the patient will understand what is happening in the moment.

Reassure Your Patient

Whenever you see your patient looking nervous or confused, you should reassure them. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way. Make sure your patient knows that everything is going well.

If you regularly praise or reassure a dementia patient, they will know that they are doing what they are supposed to do. If they are getting praised, they won’t want to panic. It will be easy for them to remain calm as you provide care.

There are a lot of challenges associated with caring for dementia patients. With that said, proper communication will make it easier for you to provide essential care. As long as you’re ready for the challenges associated with caregiving for dementia patients, you should be able to provide high standards of care.

Cardinal Tips For Caregivers of Senior HIV Patients A Guest Post by David Beeshaw

Elderly woman and young female caregiver at home

In 2014, people aged 55+ accounted for 17% of Americans living with a diagnosed HIV infection.

Even if this age group has the same risk factors as young people, they might be less aware of them – especially since most awareness campaigns don’t target older adults. Most of the time, they don’t think HIV is an issue for them and may be less likely to protect themselves. That’s why it’s older Americans that are most likely to learn about their HIV infection later in the course of their disease.  As a result, they start the treatment late and might suffer from more damage to their immune system.

These are the basic facts every caregiver should know before starting to provide care for senior patients with a diagnosed HIV infection.

However, that’s not everything. Here are 4 critical tips for caregivers of senior HIV patients.

Be aware of the stigma

Patients diagnosed with HIV often face social stigma and might be suffering from lack of support from others in their circle of family and friends who in turn might lack knowledge about HIV. Older people might already feel isolated because of their illness or loss of friends and family.

Social stigma might affect their self-image and quality of life. It often discourages these patients from seeking care or disclosing their status to others. Adults diagnosed with HIV are 5 times more likely to experience depression and be at risk of suicide than HIV-negative adults.

HIV and aging

Aging with HIV infection is challenging because the disease increases the risks that come with aging: particular cancers, thin bones, or cardiovascular disease.

That’s why care providers should make sure to maximize their efforts to prevent these conditions and look for signs of illness early on. Caregivers should also pay attention to the potential interactions between medication used to treat HIV and those used by the patient to treat common age-related conditions such as obesity, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, or hypertension.

Antiretroviral treatment allows patients diagnosed with HIV to achieve a near-normal life expectancy. However, senior patients are more vulnerable to infections and illnesses because of their age. Caregivers should minimize their exposure to common illnesses such as the flu that could bring about complications (like pneumonia) for patients with a compromised immune system.

Research the disease

Caregivers should educate themselves about HIV and AIDS. Knowing how the HIV infection is spread is a helpful measure against social stigma. Caregivers should also know how an HIV infection develops and when it might lead to the patient developing AIDS. Being aware of what different treatment regimens entail is helpful as well.

Follow these rules while providing care

Caregivers who provide care to senior patients diagnosed with HIV should know how the infection is spread and what they can do to prevent it.

Here are some tips on how to prevent the spread of HIV infection while taking care of a diagnosed patient:

  • Always wear vinyl or latex gloves if you might have contact with bodily fluids or blood from a person infected with HIV. Wear such gloves when cleaning articles soiled with vomit, feces or urine to avoid infection with other germs. Remember to wash your hands after any contact with blood, even if you wore gloves.
  • Flush all liquid waste that contains the patient’s blood down the toilet.
  • Items that aren’t flushable (sanitary pads, paper towels, wound dressings) need to be placed in a plastic bag. Close the bag securely before throwing it out. Remember to check in with your local health department about the disposal of such items.
  • Cover all breaks, cuts or sores in your exposed skin.
  • Wash all clothing and linens together – those worn by the patient don’t need to be separated.
  • Dishes used by the patient don’t need to be separated and can be cleaned using regular methods.
  • Be positive!

Follow these 4 tips and you’ll be on your way to providing top-quality care to a senior patient who has been diagnosed with an HIV infection.

Author’s Bio:

David Beeshaw is a staunch advocate of regular exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle. He is also a writer at raTrust, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those at risk of STIs and HIV. Verify raTrust on BizDb.

Navigating Medicare – Understanding Medical Supplies vs. Durable Medical Equipment A Guest Post by Rodger Sims

Medicare

Medicare is a health insurance program that covers people who are over 65 and can cover younger people with disabilities and people suffering from kidney failure, known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). With over 71.3 million people enrolled, Medicare is one of the largest insurance providers for seniors in the United States. If your loved ones are enrolled in Medicare, it is important to know how to navigate your options.

There are four different parts to Medicare:

Medicare Part A

Part A covers your hospital insurance. This coverage includes inpatient hospital stays, care in a nursing facility, hospital care and even some home health care. If you’ve worked over ten years and have paid into social security taxes, this coverage is free to you. In 2015, Medicare Part A had served 7.7 million patients.

Medicare Part B

Part B covers medical insurance and includes certain doctor’s services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventative services. In 2015, Medicare Part B had served over 33.8 million seniors.

Medicare Part C

Part C is a health care plan offered by a private company that can help you with both Part A and B benefits. Known as a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan, services offered include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), private fee-for-service plans, special needs plans and Medicare Health Savings Account (HSA) plans. Most of the Medicare Advantage Plans offer coverage for prescription drugs.

Medicare Part D

Part D of Medicare adds prescription coverage to the original Medicare, as well as to some Medicare cost plans, Medicare HSA and some private fee-for-service plans. In 2015, 38.9 million Americans utilized Part D of Medicare. Original Medicare is the tradition fee-for-service Medicare. The government pays directly for the health care services the patient receives.

Durable Medical Equipment vs. Medical Supplies

With all that in mind, it is also important to know that there are two main types of products: medical supplies and durable medical equipment (DME). Both DME and medical supplies are used to make meeting the basic needs of the elderly, ill or disabled patients at home.

Durable Medical Equipment

As suggested by the name, durable medical equipment is meant for long-term use. Medicare defines DME by the following criteria: durability, ability to be used in the home, not usually useful to someone who isn’t sick and must have a life span of three years of use. Examples of DME include hospital beds, mobility aids, prostheses (artificial limbs), orthotics (therapeutic footwear) and other supplies. Medicare pays for DME partially under Part A if the patient qualifies for home health benefit.

To qualify for home health benefit, the patient must be unable to leave his/her home, require care from a skilled nurse and does not require custodial care, such as bathing and toilet-usage. If the patient is eligible for home health benefit, Medicare will cover 80% of the allowable amount for DME.

An example of the allowable amount is the following: a patient needs a walker that costs $200. The allowable amount for the walker in that state is $100. Since Medicare will cover 80% of the allowable amount, the patient will then have to pay $120 for the walker. Under Medicare’s Part B coverage, the co-pay is the same at 20% of the allowable amount and any other additional expense after that.

For Medicare Part B, the patient does not need to qualify for home health benefit to be eligible for coverage. If a doctor or medical professional considers the product medically necessary, Medicare will partially reimburse the patient for it. One benefit of this is the ability to rent the product being needed and still be eligible for reimbursement.

Some DME products that are not covered by Medicare include hearing aids and home adaptation items like bathroom safety and ramps. Additionally, to be reimbursed, your product supplier must be enrolled in Medicare and adhere to their guidelines. If they are not, Medicare can refuse their claims.

Make sure your providers are eligible before purchasing any products.

Medical Supplies

Medical supplies are made for short-term use. They are typically used once then thrown away. Examples of medical supplies include diabetic sugar testing strips, incontinence products (diapers, catheters, etc.) and items like bandages and protective gloves. Generally, medical supplies are not covered by Medicare, though there are a few exceptions for patients with diabetes, ostomy patients and those currently using feeding tubes. These items, however, are limited.

Ostomy products can be limited to a certain number a month. If necessary, a patient can appeal to increase the number of products received a month but must go through a process to do so. This process includes re-approval through Medicare and by a doctor.

Your Options

If you can provide insurance for your loved ones and cost isn’t a large factor, it is useful to know that Medicare can be paired up with other private insurance companies. Doing so can help get over some of the limitations that are imposed by Medicare and ensure your senior has an overall health coverage. If this is not an option, then medical supplemental health insurance, known as Medigap, can help provide funds for expenses Medicare doesn’t cover.

To qualify for the Medigap program, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Medigap can cover excess costs, like co-insurance costs such as stays in the hospital or nursing home, and deductibles in Part A and Part B plans. Costs will vary according to coverage.

Medigap is available through private insurances or organizations that cater to the elderly.

Final Thoughts

Medicare covers durable medical equipment primarily under Part B, but also for DME for people under Part A with the home health benefit plan. Most medical supplies are not commonly covered by Medicare, and those that are covered tend to have limitations. Other options to ensure your senior has all their needs covered including pairing Medicare with a private insurance company or enrolling them in medical supplemental health insurance to help cover excess costs.

With the introduction and popularity of the internet, finding the supplies you need at the right cost is easier than ever before. Different websites offer low-cost medical supplies to help ensure the basic needs of your seniors are met. It is also easier to find the right insurance company for them with all the information available online.

For more information about Medicare and what it covers, got the Medicare website at Medicare.gov.

Images

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/medicare-enrollment-form-glasses-398418109?src=YZoPqz-O9WK3A8VVD8TyZg-1-2

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/empty-bed-on-hospital-ward-247358674?src=Q9ck6CAXE6czGlRyWlBoZA-1-2

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/diabetes-test-blood-medical-equipment-506370463?src=jqL9R3jY1Q44pQysfDM6NQ-1-4

Sources:

https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/decide-how-to-get-medicare/whats-medicare/what-is-medicare.html

https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/cms-fast-facts/index.html