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.

 

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 

 

Desirable Traits in a Caregiver: A Guest Post by Lara Janssen

Desirable Traits in a Caregiver

 

One of the most important thing in caregiving business is to have the seniors and their caregivers get along. Old people are commonly set in their ways, so it is unlikely that they will be ready to change much. That means that the caregiver is the one who will have to adjust to the senior they are caring for.
Not just anyone can do this, however. It is important to have a special personality to make it as a caregiver. Care giving professionals at A Better Way In Homecare offer some activities which may help the caregiver and the senior bond in this article
Work Habit
Seniors tend to be used to a routine, whether it’s their sleeping schedule, eating habits, or exercise. A good caregiver must be able to follow this routine in order not to disrupt the senior’s life. This is especially important if the senior needs some medication. It is up to the caregiver to make sure they don’t forget to take it.
Patience
Seniors can be a bit difficult and act childish at times. It is therefore important that the person who cares for them shows enough patience and tact in difficult situations. Seniors with dementia or other degenerative illnesses can be particularly difficult to work with and require additional amounts of patience.
Compassion
Much like patience, old people require compassion and understanding from
people they spend time with. A good caregiver must be able to put themselves into the shoes of the senior to really understand what they are going through. With enough compassion and attention, seniors can really experience a transformation.
Physical Strength
With seniors who have trouble getting out of bed or walking in general, it is important that the caregiver is physically strong enough to assist them. Furthermore, if the senior is wheelchair bound, they will need assistance with every aspect of their life like getting out of bed, taking a shower, toilet needs, or getting back to bed. When it comes to exercise, even though seniors need to keep exercising to stay healthy, they should not exceed their abilities, and a good caregiver is supposed to be there to make sure that training sessions go as smoothly as possible.
Qualifications
Even though it is not a personality trait, it is very important for a caregiver to have some medical experience, especially when dealing with ill clients. Useful skills such as the ability to administer injections or use oxygen masks can be the thing which decides whether a caregiver is hired or not.
 
Apart from these skills, CPR is probably the most common and the simplest medical training people can get. It is also useful, not only for work but also for life in general. Even though it is important that the caregiver is qualified and mentally and physically ready to do the job, there needs to be a kind of chemistry between the caregiver and the senior. Otherwise, the situation can be tense and despite the qualifications and affinities of the caregiver, the senior is not going to be happy with the care they are receiving.

Alzheimer’s and Incontinence: How They’re Related A Guest Post by Eric I. Mitchnick, MD, FACS

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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness of the brain that gradually destroys a person’s cognitive capabilities and, eventually, interferes with the performance of basic daily self-care functions. People in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s tend to experience incontinence, which is loss of control of either the bladder or bowels, or both. However, not everyone who has the disease will become incontinent.

The relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and incontinence is complex. Alzheimer’s may cause incontinence by taking away a person’s ability to recognize the need to go to the bathroom. However, Alzheimer’s also can be an indirect cause, by posing issues of mobility or confusion that may prevent the Alzheimer’s sufferer from reaching a bathroom in time. Furthermore, a person with Alzheimer’s can have incontinence issues arising from medical causes that might be independent of Alzheimer’s, such as a urinary tract infection, weak pelvic muscles, an enlarged prostate gland, or the side effects of certain medicines, to cite just a few. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a more comprehensive discussion of the possible causes of incontinence among persons with Alzheimer’s here.

When an Alzheimer’s patient begins to experience incontinence, the most important step to take is to consult his or her doctor for an evaluation of the cause. If the incontinence is a result of a problem unrelated to Alzheimer’s, it may be possible to address the issue with medical intervention. If a medication is contributing to incontinence, as might be the case, for example, with some anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids that relax the bladder muscles, a substitute medicine might be available. In all cases, however, here are some actions that a caregiver or the incontinence sufferer should consider taking to reduce the potential incidence of incontinence:

Reduce consumption of diuretic liquids. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it stimulates urination. Consumption of liquids that contain caffeine, such as most coffees, teas and colas, should be restricted or perhaps avoided entirely, especially close to bedtime. Alcohol also has a diuretic effect. However, medical authorities warn against restricting the intake of water. Staying properly hydrated is extremely important.

Simplify bathroom access. Whether from the Alzheimer’s patient’s bed or from the easy chair where he or she watches TV, make the route to the bathroom simple and free of obstruction. Be sure no furniture blocks any portion of the journey, and no area rugs pose any hazards. Avoid clutter in the bathroom itself. Keep the route(s) illuminated with low-wattage nightlights after dark. It also may be advisable to keep the bathroom light on all night.

Avoid cumbersome clothing. Clothing should be loose fitting and allow quick access to underwear, which should easily slip on and off. Keep in mind that a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient is likely to have poor coordination and can easily get confused by such items as buttons and clasps.

Make bathroom breaks routine. Encourage frequent trips to the bathroom, even when the need is not urgent. It will help reduce “emergency” situations.

Maintain dignity. Even the mere prospect of incontinence can create a trying experience for both Alzheimer’s patient and caregiver. When assisting the patient, allow him or her the greatest amount of privacy or autonomy that is practical in any given situation. If a loss of control should occur, avoid overreaction and do not use words that are shaming, scolding or condescending. Instead, use matter-of-fact language and try to convey a sense of “accidents will happen.” Try to   minimize his or her embarrassment and maintain dignity.

In addition, there are several products available that make it possible for those with incontinence to experience a higher quality of life, such as washable panties and briefs that control leakage and eliminate odor. Also, waterproof underpads and bed pads are available to protect chairs, wheelchairs, mattresses, and bedding.

Eric I. Mitchnick, MD, FACS is a Board Certified Urologist at  Advanced Urology Centers of New York in Northport and Port Jefferson Station, NY. He serves as Chair of the Credentialing Committee and Surgical Performance Review Committee at Huntington Hospital. In addition, he is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the New York chapter of the American Urological Association, and the President of the Board of  Integrated Medical Foundation, an organization that promotes awareness and early detection of prostate cancer.

Dr. Mitchnick received his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Natural Sciences, from Johns Hopkins University, and his MD degree from SUNY Health Science Center. He completed his four years of residency training at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, N.Y, from 1989 – 1993. Read more about Dr. Mitchnick’s expertise and practice at http://www.aucofny.com/eric-i-mitchnick-md-facs/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
https://www.salkinc.com/product-category/incontinence/womens-panties/

https://www.salkinc.com/product-category/incontinence/mens-briefs/

https://www.salkinc.com/product-category/incontinence/underpads/