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6 Easy Ways To Stay Organized and Productive as a Caregiver A Guest Post by Maggie Drag

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Being a caregiver is arguably one of the most noble professions out there – but it can also take a serious toll on your personal life. Here are 6 work-life balance tips to help you reduce stress, and ultimately make you the best caregiver for not only your clients, but for yourself, too!

1.) Plan Ahead

If you have multiple clients, or work as a live-in caregiver, keeping track of their favorite foods, interests, and medications may seem like a job in itself. Keeping a daily planner can help! If you’re constantly on your phone, try downloading an app like Fantastical, ReQall and Evernote. They are super easy to use and will allow you to set up alerts and various notifications in case you’d like to be reminded of their doctor appointments, and even your own appointments with your caregiving agency, for example. At the end of the day, keeping on top of your clients’ needs and preferences will save you a lot of stress and in the future.

2.) De-Clutter

From old receipts and grocery lists, you may have trouble remembering which documents belongs to who! Here are some easy ways to help both yourself and your client, and try doing it together and make it fun while you’re at it! First, organize your bills and clients’ bills in a binder for safe-keeping. Next, divide up your coupons into a handy coupon organizer for easy access. Finally, keep track of your own caregiving documents, from contracts, care plans and emergency contacts in a folder. Try organizing each folder by client if you have multiple, and keep a small notepad to jot down any other helpful information.

3.) Think Ahead

As a caregiver, you know that life as you know it may change in a second, whether it be your client’s health, a sudden re-assignment, and not to mention changes in your personal life. First, make sure you have a list of emergency contacts (including your agency) prepared in case you are unable to help your client or need to be relieved at any point. Next, be sure you have a plan set up for a medical emergency based on your client’s health history. Keeping track of their food allergies for one is a simple but critical step to preventing emergencies in the future.

4.) Reconnect with Loved Ones

If you’ve lost touch with a close friend, since you started another assignment, remember this: Caring about your job is one thing, but caring about your relationships is far more important in the long run. Call your distant relative via Facetime – you could even plan a day where you help your client Facetime their grandchildren after you connect with your own family!

You carry a great responsibility as a caregiver, and while your friends and family should understand that you are often very busy, don’t forget to show them some appreciation and keep in touch!

5.) “Me” Time

Being a caregiver takes a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding and allows you to build meaningful relationships and touch so many lives. However, as much as you may love your job, don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself each day– even if for only an hour, to do some gardening, watch some old movies, surf the internet, and even go out for a relaxing day at the spa. If you are a live-in caregiver, ask your client if they’d like to join in on the fun! This will help you stay productive and engaged in your assignment in a much more meaningful way.

6.) Take Care of Yourself

As much as you care about your job as a caregiver, don’t forget that the first step to being an amazing caregiver is taking good care of yourself. Keep up with exercise, eat a balanced diet but make sure you’re getting the necessary rest between assignments first and foremost- especially if you work overnight. Sleep allows your body and brain to replenish, not to mention stay alert on important assignments and throughout the day if your client needs extra supervision when taking medications, for example. Losing sleep can ultimately take a serious toll on your health in the long run, so don’t be afraid to ask your agency about rescheduling your assignments or for tips on how to manage your sleep schedule to help you be your best for your clients.

About the author:

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.

4 Top Strategies for Finding Your Dream Job by Phyllis

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Originally Publish Date: March 16, 2017 https://www.aorn.org/aorn-org/surgicalexpo/conference-blog/find-your-periop-dream-job

 

I want to share some career coaching guidance with you:

1. Build a Strong Resume that Reflects Your Worth

Ensure your full name with credentials appears at the top in the header along with your contact information. The correct formatting is, name (middle initial optional), highest academic credential, RN, certification. For example, Mary A. Smith, MSN, RN, CNOR. A summary or statement of intent is no longer advised.

Your first section should be Academic Education. Start with your highest degree. If you’re still in school, it’s acceptable to note the date you started and an anticipated date of graduation. Next list your Professional Experience, Certifications & Memberships and Continuing Education & Computer Skills. End with Honors/Awards & Achievements.

If you find a job posting on the AORN Career Center site or other site, read it carefully and make sure that important phrases contained in that job posting language are also contained somewhere in your resume. This will increase the likelihood that the computer will recognize the language and select your resume, over others, for the recruiter to read.

2. Develop an Elevator Pitch

Once your resume is pulled, it is likely that you’ll get a screening call from a recruiter. This could be a make or break conversation. A successful screening conversation is the gateway to an actual interview. When the recruiter asks, “why did you apply for this position?” or “tell me about yourself?” you must be ready to share a ninety-second clear, passionate, and compelling answer that communicates you’re a serious candidate.

Take your time to form the exact four to five sentences that make your point. It may take an hour’s worth of revisions to get this just right but the return on your investment could be huge. You want to sound prepared but not rehearsed in your delivery. You may use your elevator pitch more frequently than expected. It’s always professional and polished to have it ready when networking and speaking with colleagues or vendors.

3. Invest in Your Own Resilience

Nurses downplay the need to take care of themselves so they can take care of others. Caring comes so naturally that we often forget that we cannot render quality, safe care when we’re physically tired or energetically depleted. Ensuring that we take good care of ourselves is actually quite generous. Building resilience allows us to stay fresh and available so we can deliver a consistent caring product every day.

Here are two suggestions for keeping your resilience well full. Incorporate some silent, still time into your life. Nurses are professional doers and always on the go. That may mean you take a walk and just experience the outdoors. It could mean that you discover meditation or yoga. There’s peace in stillness and we can all use a break from the endless noise of our thoughts.

Allow yourself to be cared for by others. Nurses are always giving and the only way to balance that is to allow yourself to receive. Lose the need for control and perfection by finding a way to delegate more at work and at home. Resist the urge to host every holiday and enjoy being a guest. Both of these practices will be hard at first but stick with it and notice the change in your energy level and yourself.

It’s been my honor to be the career coach for AORN since 2012. Each year at the conference, I have the opportunity to meet some AORN members for the first time and reconnect with members from past events. The most common question I’ve been asked over the years is, “so what is coaching all about?” This brings me to my final piece of career advice – career and personal coaching.

4. Consider Career and Personal Coaching

Career coaching is a great way to get individualized guidance and assistance with establishing your professional goals, making career choices, creating an academic roadmap, polishing interview techniques, and becoming skilled in marketing yourself. It often involves reviewing and revising resumes and learning how to increase your chances of getting your resume into the right hands once it’s uploaded to an organization’s career page. Sharpening your social media skills on sites such as LinkedIn is often useful as well.

Personal coaching is the process of supporting personal growth in a nonjudgmental manner. It can be challenging to remain clear and authentic about your goals and yourself as you try to navigate your life. Responsibilities, set-backs, and the demands of an adult life can overshadow your understanding of the present and cloud your vision for the future. Our human nature creates blind spots to options and solutions. Coaching provides vital support as one explores behaviors and attitudes that can short-circuit success in life and career.

10 Hobbies That Make Your Kids Smarter A Guest Post by Anthony Johnstone

Family Funtures

For most parents, having their kids play and learn is just part of growing up and there is the belief that they will develop naturally.
This may be true, however why not give your kids the best possible opportunity to develop through fun and in some ways exciting activities. We wanted to provide a colorful list of hobbies we believe will benefit your kids and assist with their development.

Some of these hobbies may be a bit trickier than others to convince your young boy or girl to take up. However, it would be invaluable to your child’s progress in growing and learning.
Further information your can contact Anthony Johnstone at: familyfuntures@gmail.com

10 Hobbies That Make Your Kids Smarter

10 hobbies to make your kids smarter
10 hobbies that make your kids smarter

A kid’s brain develops the most in the initial phase of his or her life. Therefore, it is your duty as a parent to make sure that you do your best to help that process. The good news is that it is not tough to help your kids grow their intelligence a bit further. There are proven strategies that you can use.

In this article, we are going to talk about 10 of the best strategies to help you make your kids smarter.

Music Instruments

Hobbies for smarter kids

A music instrument can do wonders for your kids. The result is never immediate but you will end up being happy after your child grows old. The reason is very simple behind that.

Music has a soothing power and learing any music instrument will create a mental state of balance for your kids. All instruments will require your kid to learn the art of beats and along with that, he or she will also have to think about the learning process. These things add up and helps your kid to become smarter.

Reading

Girl reading

Reading is considered to be the best method on earth to be more intelligent and imaginative. Not only for kids, this works great for even adults with developed brains. Reading is a habit and you will have to make your kids get into that habit.

Once you make that happen, you will find that your kid’s mind opens up a lot more to new ideas. Also, the habit of reading will help your kid a lot further in his or her education and career.

Exercise

Boys playing football

Exercise can do wonders and yes, one of the wonders is developing the power of the mind. There is a saying that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and that’s exactly what it is. Also, if you let your kid get into exercise from the very early age, you will make sure that he or she keeps a fit body.

Make sure that you do not push your kid too much. Running and cardio is a great starting off point.

Brain Mathematics

What is brain mathematics? These are mental exercises that are both tricky and entertaining at the same time. Some people call them magic numbers. Simply use the power of Google and you will find a lot of them to play with your kid.

Though we have emphasized the mathematics part of it, you can actually go ahead and do this with almost every science subject such as physics, chemistry etc. Do they actually help your kid become smarter? They sure, do! These tools will help your kid’s brain develop the thinking power and the power to solve problems.

Meditation

smarter kids

It is tough to get your kid into meditation. Meditation is still a new phenomenon for older people so obviously, your kid is not going to like it. You have to make it fun for them and once they start liking the art of meditation, they will start enjoying it.

Go for small sessions and reward your kid if they are successful in meditating. Do not push it too much because your kid might not like the experience.

Habit of Writing

smarter kids

Writing is a great habit. Writing is considered as one of the best habits to have for development. It is not necessary that your kid has to become a writer. Writing is not only for writers but for everyone.

Encourage your kid to write a diary or a journal everyday if possible. You can also encourage your kid to do so by giving him or her starting off gifts, such as a good pen and diary. Having nice stationary would encourage the habit.

Traveling

traveling

Traveling doesn’t mean that you will have to go abroad every other year. Yes, if you can manage to do that then that would mean a lot to your kid but that’s not the only option out there.

You can actually take your kids to the local parks and fields. If you have time, try to go out of town once in a while. All these will result into something awesome for your kid. Traveling creates a lot of memories and improves the use of their imaginations.

Having a Pet

to make kids smarter

Having a pet helps your child to learn the art of responsibility. Kids love cats and dogs! You should let your kid have one too. But make it clear that it is their responsibility to take care of the pet.

Obviously, you will look after things behind the scenes however your kid will have to understand the power of responsibility. This helps a lot in making your kid smarter. Also, having a pet is great for your home. There is no denying that.

Self-Independence

develop your kids

The best thing that you can do for your kid is to make him or her Independent. Now, this is not exactly a hobby but if you can make it seem like one, this would workout best in the long run.

It starts with small things such as pouring a glass of water on their own and grows to be taking care of the family pet later on. Self-Independence is something massive and there is no boundary. You will do a huge favor to your kid if you manage to make this happen. This doesn’t only make your kid smarter, this also helps your kid to be a better person.

Coding

coding for kids

Did you know that your kid can become smarter if you help him or her learn coding? Coding is not easy but there are methods to make this interesting for kids too. There are lots of free resources these days that you can use to make your kid actually learn coding, not just copying the code.

This will not only help your kid develop the power of logical thinking, this will also encourage your kid to have a great career in the world of tech.

Final Word:

That’s our list for developing your kids, I hope this list helps to put you on the right track with regards to Making your kids smarter.

Nutrition and Meal Planning For the Hurried Caregiver a Guest Post by Breanne Fleat

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A caregiver has a vital responsibility of safeguarding their recipient, be it a family member, a friend or as part of their job. Diet and nutrition are some of the basic needs for people requiring such care, in an effort to keep the body strong and energetic. However, diet and nutrition isn’t just important for them, it’s important for you, the care provider too. With our current lives full of deadlines and schedules we usually don’t have the time to design a reliable meal plan or even stick to conventional eating patterns.

Looking after your own health is vital. Being in tip top condition will not only help you feel more energised but you will be encouraging your care recipients to wake up, shape up, eat up and try to live their healthiest life possible.

We all know how easy it is to skip meals, grab the first ready meal in the shop or neck back some energy drink because you just don’t have the time or energy. But, the fact is you will either gain excessive weight or completely ruin your metabolism and health from living this way.

Unfortunately, most conventional meals, do, require adequate preparation and cooking times, which may be almost  impossible in your situation. Fortunately, the following tips are here to help you maintain a healthy life, with consideration of your RDI (Recommended Daily Intake):

Nutrition Shortcuts
your aim is to get all the required nutrients in the day, within a tight schedule. This means that your choices have to be easily digestible and assimilated in the body. The issue you have is that foods such as bread, grains and some proteins require the body to be resting, in order to digest suitably and you just don’t have that time.

As much as I recommend eating whole foods where possible, you can get supplement snacks that contain either one or a combination of nutrients. Instead of picking up a chocolate bar and energy drink, why not head to your local health food store and pick up one of these healthier snacks instead? You may even be able to buy them online. Most meal replacement and supplement snacks are filled with nutrients, lots healthier than normal snacks and reduce the need for spending hours in the kitchen, combining meals.

Micro is Important
For a busy caregiver, you rarely have time to rest and recover. Throughout this time your body stands very high chances of catching infections and a strong immune system is needed. This is where micronutrients come in.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which help keep your body ticking along as it should.  Minerals such as Magnesium and iron, and Vitamins E and C help to detoxify the body, reducing the intensity of fatigue and lowering your risk of infections.

Quick Micro Tip: Try replacing your morning coffee or energy drink with a multivitamin tablet, or better yet add spinach to your usual breakfast, for a hit of iron and vitamin c then have almonds as a magnesium and vitamin e filled mid-morning snack.
Smoothies and Juices
you only need a couple of minutes to create a vitamin packed smoothie consisting of bananas, avocados, strawberries or even melons. The best thing about them is that you can carry them around with you during the day.

In addition, one glass of fruit juice or smoothie can contain at least 3 of your 5 a day, making it a reliable source of micro and macro nutrients, which you need for coping with the day’s commitments.

You can even include fruits with exceptional benefits such as thorn melons, to boost your immunity, especially when attending to a person with communicable diseases.

Quick Smoothie Tip: Try adding spinach to your smoothies – it may sound strange at first, but it’s practically tasteless, yet filled with loads of nutritional benefits.

Meal Planning
Planning what to eat, when and why is hectic for anyone, let alone a caregiver. Not only do you have to try and plan what you and your family will be eating, but it’s highly likely you will have to plan something entirely different for your recipient.

However it’s important to remember the phrase “prior planning prevents poor performance” and don’t we know it. Planning helps you to eliminating the decision-making process, which, for me, ends up in opting for empty snacks or fast foods.

Quick Planning Tip: Buying raw foods in advance will create a reasonable timetable to help you organise around. Plan your fresh meals for the days post shopping trip and plan tinned or frozen foods in the run up to your next supermarket trip

Cook for Freeze
No matter how busy you are, there is ALWAY a little free time, whether it’s early in the morning, late in the evening or on the weekends. This is the best time for batch cooking.

Some people advocate for a cook one-freeze three concept, where you cook an excess of a particular meal and freeze the remainders (usually another 3 servings) while others will cook one main ingredient as use it for 2 or 3 different meals.

Quick Freezer Food Tip: Make sure you set a reminder to get food out of the freezer to defrost ready for the next day otherwise you’ll be more tempted by grab and go snacks.

Change how you cook
Just because you’re personal time is sparse, shouldn’t mean you have to give up on the things you love. Food is a necessity but it’s also there to be enjoyed. Just because slow cooking sounds time consuming, doesn’t mean it is.  Using a slow cooker is a great way to ensure your meal is thoroughly flavoured and cooked with minimal time or effort.

Don’t let your lack of time take away from the enjoyable experience of cooking and eating.

Quick slow cooker tip: There’s usually a slow cooker version of most meals – got something you particularly love? Look up how to slow cook, you may find you love it even more after.

 

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BIO: Breanne is a writer, blogger and chief editor, at ProteinPromo.com. She is keen on providing readers with nutrition and wellness hints and tips to ensure readers are living their healthiest possible life.

 

THANK YOU SeeSee. Florence “SeeSee” Rigney, RN is the oldest working nurse…!

 

Florence “SeeSee” Rigney is the oldest working nurse in the United States. Last May, a video of her 90th birthday celebration went viral. The recording captures her in blue scrubs and a bedazzled “happy birthday” tiara holding back tears among her cheering colleagues. For 70 years she’s worked on and off as an operating room nurse at Tacoma General Hospital. When she first started, she got paid $115 a month. These days, she gets a ton of attention for being a high-energy compassionate nurse who still moves down the halls of the surgical unit faster than women a third her age. In 2015, Rigney was on The Dr. Oz Show and nominated for a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award. Her birthday video was shared by The Huffington Post, The Today Show and BuzzFeed. She admits she feels a bit like a local celebrity even though she’s bashful about all the publicity. “I feel very honored to think that all of this has happened to me just because I turned 90, and I’m still here!”

Make These Urgent Lifestyle Changes To Lower Stroke Risk: A Guest Post by Katrina Rice

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A stroke is not a medical mystery that strikes patients randomly. In fact, 90% of strokes are due to factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other medical risks which are all preventable. Even so, you do not have to train like a professional athlete, eat like a beauty queen or live like a monk to avoid this heart condition.

Whether you are a patient, a patient’s caregiver or simply a person concerned with this risk, by simply making modest alterations to your lifestyle and including wise health habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Below are some scientifically-based facts about how to improve your self-care and prevent this devastating brain attack:

Quit Being Sedentary

According to Dr. Hugo Aparicio, a neurologist at Boston Medical Center and also an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine, it has been established for many decades that using leisure time to insert regular exercises such as going to the gym, taking long walks, or simply playing sports can significantly reduce the likelihood of getting a stroke.

Therefore, exercise should not be considered an activity mainly for the weekends and instead, it has to be an regular activity at least 30 minutes per day.

Lose The Excess Weight

As Dr. Aparicio points out in his “Framingham Heart Study”, the risk factors of a stroke are not isolated and in fact are all interconnected with the rest of your physical condition.. Exercising does not only reduce fat, it also helps increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin thereby creating a more efficient metabolism. A well-oiled metabolism is needed to prevent your blood sugar from soaring high and put you at risk of diabetes, which may lead to coronary diseases.

For morbidly obese patients, there might be a need to consider weight loss surgeries. And for those who can’t perform physical exercises due to mobility issues, a strict and regulated diet can help. Some people claim and stand by the coleus forskohlii benefits as an effective aid for people who need to lose weight quickly. Using supplementation requires a good amount of research so you ought to be cautious about it.

Apart from stroke and diabetes, this lifestyle change can also prevent other metabolic disorders, cancer and delay the onset of dementia among elderly people, and we all will get older, assuming we survive long enough.

Always Regulate Your Blood Pressure

According to Martin O’Donnell, the lead author of the published study in the medical journal “The Lancet”, you can easily stay on top of your blood pressure by using readily available equipment.

In developed countries such as the US, people have easy access to devices that quickly read their blood pressure, whether it be readily available at the supermarket or purchasing an inexpensive BP apparatus for home use. Individuals nowadays can also get a little help from doctors by simply asking for prescription to immediately help lower their blood pressure.

Eat A Healthy and Balanced Diet

Limiting red meat, avoiding processed food and eliminating fried and salty foods works best in preventing stroke. In fact, there are more precise dietary guidelines you can follow if you want to be very keen on preventing this deadly condition. A balanced diet comprised of low-carb vegetables, fruits, and fish – as protein is the most ideal. If much help is needed, seek a nutritionist’s expertise.

Aside from the vitamins and minerals your health receives from such whole foods, fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines are great sources of omega-3, an essential fatty acid your body needs to prevent heart diseases. However, there are a number of individuals who can’t include fish in their regular diet so taking fish oil capsules as supplements is also an alternative prevention.

Quit Smoking

Smoking does not only affect the lungs and the liver, it also infects your heart. Smoking is one of the culprits of elevated LDL (bad cholesterol). Too much cholesterol in your bloodstream can create arterial obstructions and create blood clots.

These tiny clots – if left untreated, can travel to your brain and cause the stroke you were trying to prevent in the first place. So if you are making a lifestyle change, begin here. You can quit smoking by asking help from your physician. They can offer you alternatives on how you can successfully quit smoking.

Treat Existing Heart Conditions

Stroke and other heart diseases are somehow interrelated. One major risk factor is having atrial fibrillation – a heart rhythm problem that many Americans are affected with. With regular checkups, individuals who have this heart condition can get regular treatments and anti-clotting medications.

According to Dr. Aparicio, you don’t need to do everything all at once. It’s a matter of addressing the top contributors to the risk of stroke – such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and smoking. As soon as you can see minor improvements in your health, you can start incorporating exercises and other active physical routines.

There is this unrealistic expectation that you have to have the right body weight, the ideal diet and the life of a monk to prevent a stroke. But as what Dr. O’Donnell says, “The risk factors of stroke are a continuum. So if you can’t apply all the preventative measures, modest changes will reduce your risk of stroke”.

Bio of the Author:

Katrina Rice

Katrina Rice is a mom and a freelance writer. She strongly believes in the concept of holistic wellness through healthy and natural living, travelling and immersing one’s self in new activities. A self-proclaimed health enthusiast, she hopes to inspire more people to do the same.

 

 

 

It Is My Pleasure To Introduce You To: Daughters Unite

 

 

Daughters Unite was created for caring daughters by caring daughters who face the challenges of being sandwiched between their spouses, kids and/or careers and the disabled and aging adults in their lives.

Share your story and help a fellow daughter reduce the chaos and craziness in her life! Send a quick “I’m interested” email to Tell My Story. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours with all the details about how to submit.

We love introducing our friends to one another. Daughters Unite meet Daughterhood. Founder, Anne Tumlinson has spent the last two decades working on improving how America cares for its frailest, most vulnerable older adults. Check out – www.daughterhood.org.

THINK ABOUT IT.

What if there was one trusted place where you were heard, where you were understood, where you were validated, where you were supported and where you could immediately get answers to the never ending questions that come up  when caring for an aging parent or other disabled adult loved one?

 

Direct Message Us on FB, Twitter & Instagram

Email us @ info@daughtersunite.com

Twitter: @DaughtersUnite

Family Caregiver Duties: Effective Financial Planning A Guest Post by Samantha Stein

Family Caregiver

Family caregivers are no stranger to financial issues. When you assume the role of your family member’s primary care provider, it includes tackling the costs of their care as well as their expenses and necessities. On top of this, you also have your own finances to contend with. This is why a significant amount of financial planning is necessary to become a successful family caregiver.

To help you get started, ALTCP shares an in-depth look at the issues that caregivers face as well as a comprehensive guide to financial planning.

Who Are the Family Caregivers Now?

According to the Caregiving in the US 2015 Report, the typical caregiver is a 49-year old woman caring for a relative (82%), with 49% caring for a parent or a parent-in-law in their late 60s. Although only one in ten provides care for a spouse, it is the higher-hour caregivers that are four times more likely to be caring for a spouse or partner.

An interesting change that we noted, however, is that the face of the caregiver seems to be changing as the newer generations step up to the plate.

Millennial caregivers or the individuals between the ages 18 and 34 are growing in numbers. Currently, this new generation of caregivers makes up nearly a quarter of the 43.5 million, as stated in The Millennial Caregiver by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute. Unlike their predecessors, these millennial caregivers are equally likely to be male or female. Typically, he or she is 27 years old and caring for a mother or a grandmother with a physical condition. Moreover, this age group works for 34.9 hours a week at their job, but they have not finished a degree. The average income also falls at $42,200, which is below the national median.

Also, millennial caregivers are also more likely to report their loved one’s emotional or mental health condition, which then leads to immediate care.

What Are the Services They Provide?

The demands of caregiving vary in each situation. The scope of the care you are providing is most likely different from that of someone else’s. However, the basic services include:

  • Assist in accomplishing at least two of the Activities of Daily Living (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, toileting, and moving)
  • Perform house chores
  • Provide or prepare meals
  • Assist in addressing medical needs and reminders
  • Provide companionship

Essentially, family caregivers cater to the emotional, mental, physical, social, and often financial needs of their care recipients. And the length of time that they provide the care varies, as well. According to The State of Caregiving: 2015 Report, 57% of caregivers have been providing care for family members for more than three years. Among the top health concerns that caregivers deal with are Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In 2016, these conditions cost the nation a total of $236 billion.

The Financial Impact of Caregiving for Family

Although caregiving to a family member has plenty of positive effects, it can also cause significant blows in the different aspects of your life—that is if you are not careful. We all know that the cost of care is high, and it can surely cause a considerable change in your finances.

Let’s take a look at how it can affect your financial standing, and how you can take control of the situation.

Out of Pocket Costs

According to a survey conducted by AARP among caregivers age 18 and above, they were able to identify the financial strains that come with caregiving. Family caregivers spend on average approximately $7,000 a year on caregiving-related expenses. The amount then leaps to a whopping $11,923 for long distance caregivers who have to factor in travel expenses and even outside help.

These individuals spend approximately 20% of their income on caregiving-related costs. These expenses may include home modifications, insurance costs, and other medical expenses.

Effects on Employment

Some situations require not just the caregiver’s full attention but so much of his or her time as well. This becomes a predicament for family caregivers who are also full-time workers.

56% of family caregivers have shared that they have had to make adjustments at work because of caregiving. These include cutting back or adding more hours, working on different shifts, and even taking paid or unpaid time off. Other individuals have had to leave their jobs to become full-time family caregivers.

It is also necessary to highlight that family caregivers who keep their jobs are three times more likely to experience work productivity loss.

Addressing Your Loved One’s Financial Concerns

Part of the job of being a family caregiver is dealing with your family member’s financial concerns. It may feel awkward—like you are somehow overstepping—but it is necessary in most scenarios. After all, care sometimes means keeping them from financial abuse.

Taking Over Their Finances

If you are dealing with your parents’ money, then you and the members of the family should have a sit-down discussion about the current situation. Find solutions as a unit and delegate tasks. This way, every person will be involved.

More importantly, you have to make sure that all the necessary documents are in place. To be able to manage their finances effectively you must have legal authority, which in most cases, is granted through the different types of power of attorney.

Maximize Insurance Policy Benefits

Long term care insurance covers a vast range of services. It can cover the care in a nursing home, an adult day care center, and an assisted living facility. On top of that, these policies could include home care which would allow your loved ones to stay at home longer. For you, this could mean an extra pair of hands in handling all the needs of your loved one.

If your loved one is covered through long term care insurance, make sure to read all the specifics carefully. Some policies even provide compensation for family caregivers.

Medicare and Social Security Benefits

Retirees may be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, so see if your care recipients are qualified for it. If not, then you may also look into Social Security disability benefits. Provided by a federal insurance program, these benefits allot income to individuals who cannot work because of a severe disability.

Medicare may also be a massive help in dealing with your loved one’s finances. In general, individuals can qualify for a plan once they turn 65 even if they are diagnosed. Just remember to apply during the time allotted (open enrollment period). Also, take into consideration the different supplement plans that can help with the costs. Be sure to consult with a specialist because these plans are quite complicated.

Tackling Your Own Finances

Family caregivers can take small steps to help keep their finances in check. To illustrate, we have found this video by AARP discussing the various financial tips in which caregivers can add a few dollars to their budget:

Let’s discuss further points:

Long Term Care Tax Deductions for the Family Caregiver

Did you know that family caregivers are entitled to long term care deductions? To do so, you must be able to claim that your care recipients are your dependents and that you are shouldering at least half of their expenses.  Refer to www.irs.gov for more information regarding this matter.

Do Not Touch Your Retirement Funds

One of the biggest temptations, when you are going through a rough patch, is to dip into your retirement funds. However, we urge you not to do so yet. These funds are present for your future, and you must find ways to keep it that way.

Being a family caregiver, you may have been given a glimpse of the difficulties that life can throw at retirees. You have a unique perspective on how difficult it can be for individuals in their retirement years, and this is why you need to keep your retirement funds intact.

Maintain a Source of Income

As mentioned above, many have had to let go of their jobs to meet the demands of caregiving.

Be that as it may, this does not mean that you should not explore other opportunities. A regular, 9-5 may not be an option at the moment, but you can look into various opportunities on the Internet. Many online jobs allow workers to work at home, which makes it a perfect setup for family caregivers. This allows them to be within reach to their care recipients, while simultaneously holding down a job that provides income.

Prepare For Long Term Care Now

Family caregivers know firsthand how the long term care needs can easily overtake one’s life.  As illustrated above, the costs involved ought not to be taken lightly.

This is why family caregivers are urged to secure long term care coverage early on. Providing care to loved ones can often lead a caregiver to neglect their own future needs. Often, their own retirement and long term care plans take the backburner in order to fulfill their role. Many assume that they will still have time to save for their own needs.

However, you must remember not to be lulled into a false sense of security. The cost of care in the country is expensive, and it appears to be increasing at a fast rate. Without a proper policy in place, your family members might have to cover most if not all of these costs.

To guide you in finding and selecting a suitable policy, you may request long term care insurance quotes from ALTCP. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments section.

Originally featured on Association for Long Term Care Planning

http://www.altcp.org/family-caregiver-financial-planning/

The Best Medical Alert Systems

mobilehelp

Originally posted on Reviews.com on August 8, 2016 

http://www.reviews.com/medical-alert-systems/

Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they prefer to live in their own homes, and most expect to stay there. It’s called “aging in place” and put simply: no assisted living facilities. Family members want to respect these wishes, but the risks are real. According to the National Council on Aging, one in three adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year, let alone other emergencies. The best medical alert systems address these risks with reliable devices that can connect seniors with help, keeping them safely independent — and giving family members one less thing to worry about. Our top pick, Bay Alarm Medical, goes even further with attentive, personable service. In an emergency, we’d feel comfortable with a loved one in the company’s hands.

LifeCall popularized the personal emergency response system (PERS) with infomercials in the 1980s — “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” — and while the technology has come a long way, their core function hasn’t: Press a button and you’re in touch with someone who can send help.

Our Picks for the Best Medical Alert Systems in 2017

Best Overall

Bay Alarm MedicalBay Alarm Medical is our top pick for its superior customer service and caring bedside manner.

It started with the little things: Web ordering was painless, and its crisp website has video demonstrations, a weekly blog, and clear pricing and terms. When our unit arrived, it came with a pair of spiffy striped socks, and setup was simple: just flip up its antennae and plug it in.

But where Bay Alarm really shines is the human element. When we talked to the monitoring representatives, there was a genuine warmth and calm — it was like calling your fourth-grade teacher. When we told them we were just testing the device, the rep always said some version of “I’m glad to hear that everything is okay.”

We unplugged the Bay Alarm Medical device to test its backup battery and within 20 minutes, Joseph at Central Station called to notify us that there was a loss of power signal. No other provider did this.

Bay Alarm’s cellular base station doesn’t win for its looks. It’s clunky, with just a big red “Help” button. Other cellular base stations we tested have a screen that displays the time, the strength of your cellular signal, and the status of the backup battery. Bay Alarm tells you your cellular signal by calling out “Two bars” or “Three bars,” sometimes when you aren’t expecting it — not particularly helpful, especially since we don’t know Bay Alarm’s maximum number of bars. And on average, it took 60 seconds to connect us to a monitoring center, which was slightly longer than Medical Guardian and MobileHelp.

Bay Alarm Medical’s base station isn’t subtle, but setting it up is easy and their call-center support blew us away.

However, Bay Alarm had exceptionally high backup battery life during our hands-on testing phase (52 hours compared to 30–36 hours for the competitors we tested). And while the design is very basic, it isn’t difficult to set up or operate, and it passed our range tests. Ultimately, it comes down to substance over style: We felt like Bay Alarm would best see us through an emergency.

Best Technology

MobileHelpMobileHelp is at the top of the industry when it comes to the medical devices themselves.

Cross-pollination in the PERS community is common: Three of the four brands we tested used MobileHelp-manufactured technology, while MobileHelp actually uses Acadian On Call’s monitoring services. Because they make their own devices, the company makes it easy to grow with its services as needs change, with upgrade options that include automatic fall detection, blood pressure monitors, and wall-mounted buttons.

MobileHelp was an easy winner in the technology competition: Its base station was shared by three other finalists and its wristwatch device was the only one we considered wearing simply for fashion.

We liked that MobileHelp provides both a necklace pendant and a watch option, and really liked that they were modern and sporty. Seniors prefer PERS devices to be as discreet as possible. “There’s a stigma about them,” says Novak. “Part of that is due to the media portraying individuals who use them as feeble or senile. But as their design improves — they are smaller or look like jewelry — they are becoming a bit more acceptable.” MobileHelp’s watch band is slick (a lot like the Apple Watch) and its pendant is a small, subtle pellet.

(Top) MobileHelp gives users two button options: a standard pendant and a wristband similar in size to an Apple Watch. (Bottom) As with their respective base stations, three of our finalists offered the same style of pendant button, while our top pick, Bay Alarm Medical, went with a different design.

MobileHelp’s only real drawback is that it offers exclusively AT&T cellular service — there are no landline options. If you don’t get good AT&T coverage in your area, MobileHelp isn’t the way to go.

Honorable Mention

Medical GuardianMedical Guardian is definitely a big hitter: it even nabbed The Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson as its spokesperson.

Medical Guardian’s emergency call response times had a respectable 49-second average (and even hit a record-fast 33 seconds on one test call) and we were satisfied by its reps’ bedside manner. Its biggest drawback is that it doesn’t offer a free trial period and locks you into a minimum 90-day commitment.

Medical Guardian is easily the most well-known medical alert company, but its service ultimately didn’t stand out.

Other Medical Alert Systems to Consider

Acadian On Call

Acadian On Call definitely met all of our criteria. It operates its own monitoring centers, which are all Five-Diamond certified by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), a nonprofit organization that trains representatives of central monitoring stations for fire departments, police stations, and private companies like medical alert systems. Additionally, its centers only employ Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD)-certified EMTs and paramedics. It offers a variety of devices; its pricing is competitive; and when it passed our customer service, equipment, and ease-of-use evaluations, we placed an order. When the system arrived, we were met with a folder of confusing paperwork. One printout, which read “IMMEDIATE ATTENTION,” wanted us to authorize payment even though we’d already paid, and requested a credit card number or voided check to be mailed back. “When authorization is received,” it said, “all previous balances will be drafted to bring account current.” Huh?

If this had arrived at an aged relative’s house, the risk of it being ignored out of sheer complication is huge. And while it could all have been a simple mistake, the hassle stood out in a crowded field of contenders.

Philips Lifeline

Philips Lifeline has a selection of devices that’s downright impressive, with well-designed medication dispensers and an emergency contact iPhone app in addition to traditional base stations. However, it charges fees for installation ($20 for self-installation or $99 for a technician) and cancellation, and offers no free trial period or discounts.

GreatCall Splash

GreatCall Splash gets high marks from customers for its go-anywhere capabilities. It acts just like a cellphone, but with only one phone number: the emergency call center. Monthly fees are affordable, ranging from $20–$35, but you have to purchase its equipment outright ($50), plus pony up an additional $35 activation fee. Another downside is they need to be recharged often, which runs the risk that you’ll be out of battery during an emergency.

Walgreens ReadyResponse

Walgreens ReadyResponse checked almost all the boxes when it came to breadth of equipment and easy setup, but when we dug in further we discovered that they’re simply resellers for Tunstall Americas, a company we’d already cut for its inferior purchasing process and less-accessible customer service reps.

ResponseLINK

ResponseLINK has been in the PERS business since 1998 and acquired Alert1, another popular provider, in 2008. It’s a solid option, but if you want to upgrade your service, it doesn’t offer many add-ons, such as carbon monoxide monitoring, fire detection, or extra wall-mounted buttons.

Best Medical Alert Systems: Summed Up

Did You Know?

These are rentals.

Only a few companies allow you to buy their equipment outright. When you order a medical alert device, you are renting the equipment and paying for access to an emergency call center. PERS providers are strict about making sure every piece they shipped to you is returned in good condition. If not, they can hit you with fees (Acadian On Call, for example, values its equipment at $250).

You’re most likely talking to a trained nurse or EMT.

While there is no regulation that requires medical alert call center representatives to be medical professionals, many are trained nurses and EMTs. If they’re not, most providers (including all our top picks) tout their care representatives as being “UL-Listed,” meaning they’ve been approved by the independent safety science company, and/or Five-Diamond Certified by the CSAA.

Medical alert providers are on the rise (and we don’t expect them to all make it).

According to the United States Census, the population age 60 and older will double between 2012 and 2050. And if 90 percent of these seniors plan on living in their own homes, it should be no surprise that the medical alert industry is getting more and more crowded. “A lot of these companies are new and there is a lot of competition, so not all of them will last,” says Erickson. “I know of several already who weren’t able to make it.”

We love the little guy, but recognize that going with someone new to the game may mean scrambling for another service if it ends up out of business.

The Bottom Line

During at-home emergencies, medical alert devices quickly connect seniors with someone who can help. We recommend Bay Alarm Medical for its straightforward, reliable equipment and call center reps who convinced us they truly cared.

Take Action

Best Medical Alert System

Bay Alarm MedicalUltimately, it comes down to substance over style: We felt like Bay Alarm would best see us through an emergency.

Don’t dance around the subject. “Elders aren’t stupid,” Dr. Novak says. “If you think they might be opposed to a medical alert system, let them know that you think it is important because it will make you feel more secure with their safety, not because you feel they are inept or ill.”

Evaluate what type of PERS is appropriate. Dr. Novak recommends medical alert systems for seniors living alone or with a partner or spouse who may not be able to help physically in an emergency. She recommends talking to your loved one about their habits (Do they take walks? Spend most of their time in one particular room?) and their health (Is there a risk of them falling? Do they have memory issues?). This will help determine if add-ons and upgrades like mobile GPS and fall detection are important — and even if a medical alert device is the right way to go. “If they have dementia,” Novak says, “a PERS device might work for a while, but at some point it will not be helpful. Remember, this is not a substitute for home, nursing, or hospice care. If your loved one needs a higher level of care, a PERS device can assist, but cannot act alone.”

Check your mobile coverage. If you plan on getting a cellular or mobile PERS, coverage where you or your loved one lives may be excellent, spotty, or nonexistent. Each medical provider states clearly which mobile provider it uses; check their coverage map to see if your loved one’s home or building gets good phone reception. If it doesn’t, the device may not work.

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