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.

 

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 

 

12 Dietary Choices That May Lead to Restless Sleep A Guest Post By Megan Crants

 

High Resonance Healing Words
Healer’s outstretched open hand surrounded by random wise healing words on a rustic stone effect background

Sleeping and eating are both critical elements of recovery, but not necessarily in quick succession. Many healthcare providers will encourage putting away all food at 8pm because eating causes the body to go into an arousal state and devote energy to digestion, when ideally it should be settling down for sleep. If you’re starving or hypoglycemic, a small snack is acceptable before bed to avoid mid-night awakenings, but otherwise it’s best to avoid food and drink right before lights-out. Try to plan out your eating patterns so that your last meal falls well before you fall asleep.

In fact, planning out the foods you eat throughout the entire day is not a bad idea either in terms of assuring a good night’s sleep. Certain dietary options have been linked to decreased sleep quality and can have effects on the body that last well into the night:

  1. High Fat/Fried Foods. Fatty foods stimulate digestive tract contractions, which can either cause your stomach to empty slowly, worsening constipation, or they can cause your stomach to empty rapidly, leading to diarrhea. As a result of this gastrointestinal distress, you are more likely to experience fragmented sleep.
  2. Caffeinated Beverages. Caffeine is a stimulant that causes temporary alertness by increasing adrenaline production and preventing certain sleep-inducing chemicals from taking effect. It’s best to avoid caffeine after 2pm, because it has a tendency to alter the body’s sleep/wake cycle for a long time after consumption. If you’re going to consume caffeine, we recommend drinking a shot of it before a 20-minute power nap. This strategy has been scientifically demonstrated to enhance the napping experience, since caffeine takes about 20 minutes to cause arousal.
  3. Cocoa beans naturally contain caffeine so any source of chocolate is going to harbor some form of the stimulant. Darker chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa beans, and therefore a higher percentage of caffeine. In addition, chocolate contains theobromine, a compound known to increase heart rate and cause arousal. To learn more, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/health/13real.html
  4. Tyramine-Rich Foods. Foods such as aged cheeses, eggplant, soy sauce, and tomatoes contain an amino acid called tyramine. This compound causes the brain to release a stimulant called norepinephrine, which causes wakefulness.
  5. Fruits and Vegetables with a High Water Content. Celery, cucumbers, watermelons, etc. are chock-full of water and therefore natural diuretics. Waking up multiple times throughout the night with a full bladder is sure to disturb your sleep cycle, so try to avoid these foods close to bedtime.
  6. Sugary Foods. Candy, or other treats high in sugar, will likely cause spiking blood sugar levels and rapid release of insulin to control them. The spiking blood sugar levels may cause a “sugar crash” that may make it easy to fall asleep, but ultimately the fluctuations will make staying asleep a difficult task.
  7. Studies have shown that the scent of peppermint may increase alertness, decrease fatigue, and work as a central nervous system stimulant. To learn more, click here: http://www.wju.edu/about/adm_news_story.asp?iNewsID=1484&strBack=%2Fabout%2Fadm_news_archive%2Easp
  8. Sorbitol-Rich Foods. Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener that is not only added to gum and diet foods, but is also naturally found in prunes, apples, and peaches. Sorbitol commonly causes digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea so try to avoid it when possible.
  9. Citric Fruits. Citric fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, contain large amounts of citric acid, which can cause gastrointestinal distress and/or heartburn. In addition to the pain they cause, these ailments may also exacerbate asthma or previously existing sleep breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea.
  10. Spicy Foods. Spicy foods stimulate the digestive system, which can potentially cause gastric distress while you’re trying to sleep. Try to stick to bland foods as bedtime approaches.
  11. High Fiber Foods. Comfort is key for ideal sleeping conditions, so neans, broccoli, cauliflower, and other high fiber foods should be avoided. These dietary additions are likely to cause bloating, gas, and general discomfort which can prevent you from falling asleep or can cause you to wake up during the night.
  12. Many people believe that alcohol serves as an effective sleep aid, as it initially has a sedating effect, but it is ultimately a detriment to high quality rest. Alcohol disturbs rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, meaning that sleep quality is significantly lowered after drinking. This lack of REM sleep negatively affects daytime memory, concentration, and motor skills, not to mention mood. It can suppress breathing, triggering sleep apnea and other breathing difficulties that cause nighttime awakenings. Additionally, alcohol damages the lining of the stomach and changes liver metabolism, which can cause indigestion and other health problems that may keep you up at night.

For more information, check out our tips for high-quality sleep at https://twodreams.com/holistic-health/sleep-hygiene

Megan Crants is a staff writer at Two Dreams (www.twodreams.com) and can be reached via email at mcrants@twodreams.com.

 

Sources Cited:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20628881,00.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/16-best-worst-foods-sleep/story?id=19404975

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assisted Living Could Mean Better Quality of Life for Seniors: A Guest Post by Paul Birung

the best vision is insight phrase  on a vintage slate blackboard
the best vision is insight phrase on a vintage slate blackboard

When our parents retire, we are so busy with our jobs to care for them at home. It is tempting to put our folks in homes where they can receive round the clock care but mostly, they are against the idea. We may bend to their wishes and keep them at home but as time goes by, their needs increase and it can be quite daunting for the family.

Why Assisted Living over Home Care for Seniors?

Seniors can definitely enjoy security, contact, and support in a residential community. In such an area there is access to nutrition, wellness services, and personal care tailored to each one of them. All this is achievable without having to compromise their independence.

Assisted living is different from a nursing facility where seniors receive medical care 24/7. For example at assisted living in Hilton Head, the elderly can receive any help they need even if their family is far away. These are the reasons you should think about assisted living for the sake of your loved ones’ quality of life.

  1. Opportunities for Physical Fitness

As assisted living communities there are group exercises, top notch gym facilities and personal trainers who do more than a caregiver would at home.

  1. Chances of Social Contact

It can be quite lonesome for a senior lying alone at home where they cannot reach their friends. Assisted Living offers common areas, planned trips, and activities that make it inevitable for seniors to socialize with peers.

  1. Safety

You must senior-proof and make modifications at home to make sure that your loved ones are safe. Such changes are definitely expensive and needs keep adding up as physical health wanes. Assisted living centers are designed for the seniors with keen attention to mobility, avoiding accidents and accessibility.

  1. Monitored Nutrition

Family members may not be able to keep up the nutrition demands of seniors who may not be able to make their own meals. There are chances of better nutrition in an assisted living facility where meals are prepared according to each resident’s needs.

  1. Help with Daily Activities

Bathing, dressing or feeding a loved on may be stressful for family members. With assisted living, residents get help with these activities. This is one of the basic offerings for assisted living and it, therefore, saves families the cost of a homecare assistant. This way, older adults can keep their independence.

  1. Housekeeping

The task of caring for seniors at home leaves families with extra chores to do. It isn’t easy to keep the house clean, weed the garden or cook with a senior in need of care. When these adults reside in assisted living, this burden is relieved so family members have more time to focus on themselves.

  1. Transportation

The facility will be responsible for residents’ transportation needs to the hospital, social engagements, and other appointments. With this taken care of, family members can enjoy more free time on their daily activities.

Assisted living certainly offers more independence to the seniors and their families. By giving each individual a chance to live life to the fullest, assisted living ensure that families stay happy, and this is the hallmark of quality living.