AARP Report Predicts Shortage in Caregivers

south florida home care

Americans are aging quickly, and this is bound to have a devastating effect on home caregiving for the elderly in the coming decades. According to a recently released report by the AARP, “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap,” Americans in the coming years will likely suffer from an absence of loved ones to take care of them as they age.

According to the report, in 2010 there was a ratio of over seven potential caregivers for each American over eighty years old. By 2030, the report predicts that this ratio will rapidly decline to just four potential caregivers for each elderly American. This trend is expected to continue, and by 2050, the ratio will be down to three-to-one.

This will occur for a number of reasons, including the very large number of baby boomers, and the fact that baby boomers had smaller families in contrast to previous generations. Additionally, the increased life spans of Americans simultaneously demands a greater need for elderly caregiving. According to projections in the report, of the 78 million baby boomers alive in 2010, approximately sixty million of them will be alive by 2030, and twenty million will live past 2050.

These numbers are based on findings from REMI, a firm which specializes in economic forecasting and policy analysis. This is particularly concerning for a large number of Americans because family caregiving is a growing phenomenon in the United States. At present, there are over 40 million Americans providing home care to a loved one, and that number has been soaring in recent years. According to the report, over 60% of home caregivers are women, and the overwhelming majority of those cared for are over fifty years old.

Today, the typical caregiver can be described as a middle aged woman who works part-time while caregiving a loved one without pay for twenty hours weekly. The problem is that the number of potential caregivers will be on the decline at a time when their demand will be an all-time high. According to Lynn Feinberg, a policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute and an author of the report, the findings indicate that Americans should not rely solely on loved ones to provide care for them as they age.

This is not comforting news, since at present family and friends have been the backbone of quality home care for the elderly, with many providing care without pay. If these costs were totaled, it could reach as high as $450 billion, a massive amount which surpasses all of Medicaid and even borders on the expenditures of Medicare. This is a problem which if left alone, will disproportionately affect women since they live longer than men.

As a result, the report argues that it is time to implement policy that will make it easier for loved one to provide home care, and a federal commission on this very subject is expected in the coming months. With a rapidly aging population, let us hope that policy will be implemented sooner than later.

Women's Longevity Affects How We Care For Seniors


A recently released report by the World Health Organization has found that the life expectancy for aging women is increasing at a significant rate. The report also found that there is room for improvement in less affluent countries, where adjustments could see life expectancies increase yet further. According to researchers at the World Health Organization, leading causes of death in women over the age of fifty include cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Fortunately, these ailments are preventable in many situations simply by improving one’s diet and increased exercise. As a result, many causes of premature deaths that have been dragging down average life expectancy can be treated or fully prevented.

Some of the keys towards increasing life expectancy in women include not smoking and not drinking excessively. Obesity is a leading cause of premature death in women, so weight control is also of crucial significance. The WHO study also compared women who live in different countries. The women who live longest in the world are Japanese. Still, the report found that life expectancies have increased all around the world, largely due to advancements in fighting deadly diseases such as pneumonia, flu, and tuberculosis.

Some countries are falling behind. For example, Russian women are feeling the effects of a failed healthcare system, and South Africa is suffering from a threatening AIDS epidemic. Some countries are experiencing the negative effects of economic prosperity, such as in Mexico where increased wages have resulted in a parallel increase in obesity.

The report was not exclusively related to aging and longevity, and also included pertinent information relating to a women’s right to safe-sex. This issue is intrinsically related to healthy aging and longevity, and WHO researchers advocate for changing stereotypes relating to the sexuality of seniors. Women need to be offered guidance related to safe-sex and have access to testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

This increase in the longevity of women’s lives has a tremendous effect on how we care for seniors. The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of home health care agencies, offering long term home care for an aging American population. The increase in longevity comes with increased challenges in how we care for our elders. With rising healthcare costs, many seniors find themselves unable to afford the expensive bills from nursing homes and residential facilities, opting for home care options instead.

Fortunately, the technological advancements in the area of home care have allowed Americans to age in the comfort of their own homes while still maintaining access to quality care. The phenomenon of loved ones providing for seniors in their own home is as popular as ever, and this trend is only expected to continue. The average life expectancy of American women is on the rise, having surpassed the 80 year benchmark. While this is a dose of good news to a population of aging baby boomers, it also compels our policy makers to improve our healthcare system to accommodate the large population of seniors.

Long Distance Caregivers Rely on Home Care Nurses

Keet is a home helper in Manhattan, NY for Lo, an 81-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease. Here they are just goofing off in a hospital that Lo is recovering from a mini stroke. Lo was complaining about being bored in bed so they switched places.

Americans are aging quickly, and that means there is a great need for elder services. According to a recent estimate by The National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, the number of Americans providing home care to an individual in need has surpassed 65 million.

Generally speaking, home helpers live fairly close to the person to whom they are providing care, out of basic necessity. For example, if one sibling lives closer to an ailing parent than the others, then it’s likely that the responsibility for providing in-home care will rest on his or her shoulders.

However, for a whopping seven million Americans, the commute to the home in which they provide care takes longer than an hour. These findings, reported by The National Institute on Aging, shed light on what is an increasing problem in companion care.

In situations of long distance between caregiver and patient, it is recommended that there be as much communication as possible, be it by telephone or a webcam. This will enable family members to detect problems as they are developing, before it becomes too late to treat effectively.

Another piece of advice offered in such situations is to enlist the support of someone who lives closer to your patient, whether it be a friend or a neighbor. Have them check up on your loved one periodically, simply to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

The best support, though, often comes in the form of home care agencies who can provide aides to stay with your loved one. Often considerably cheaper than a nursing home or other out-of-house alternatives, home care nurses can provide first-rate care at inexpensive prices.

For many caregivers struggling with the long commute, home care agencies have become the preferred option. It enables long distance caregivers to stay where they are, while ensuring that their loved ones have the care and attention that they deserve.

For more on this article, please visit: Home Health Care: Peace of Mind for Long-Distance Caregivers

Medical Training Programs Teach Family Home Care

Providing care for seniors is becoming easier for families who are looking for quality home care without resorting to hiring professional caregiving assistance. This is because there are now academic programs which offer family members the knowledge necessary to provide first-rate care for their elders.

One such program is at the Valley colleges in Arizona, with others sprinkling up all over the United States. By participating in these programs, family caregivers are given the foundation necessary to provide long term home care to their loved ones.

For example, students in the Valley program learn to recognize key infections, as well as to perform basic tasks such as how to take a patient’s blood pressure and monitor their vital signs. This is in addition to learning tasks related to providing home care such as toileting, bathing, etc. After graduating from the program, alumni are qualified to provide home care to seniors.

With the number of aging Americans soaring, there is an increased demand for quality home care. Not only is it the preferred options for most seniors, it is often significantly cheaper than its alternatives, such as a nursing home or other residential care facilities.

As such, there is a great demand for these programs which provide family members the ability to provide home care assistance to the elderly. Nonetheless, many are expressing hesitancy towards the growth of these programs, warning that providing home care requires a great deal of emotional and physical strength.
Other times, family caregivers place their full attention on their suffering loved ones, and fail to take their own physical and emotional health into consideration. As such, providing home care is not an option for everyone, and for many families home care agencies can provide a satisfactory alternative.

In any event, one fact is absolutely clear: the growth of these programs reflects the increasing demand for in-home caregiving.

For more on this article, visit: Family members take medical training to be home caregivers | South Florida home care agency

Breakthrough Alzheimer’s Drug Great News for Elder Care

Researchers in Switzerland are claiming to have found a way to combat Alzheimer’s disease, without causing unintended harm to the human body. This is perceived as a major breakthrough in the struggle to find a cure for the disease which affects tens of millions worldwide. Essentially, the breakthrough drug is able to destroy the toxic plaques in the brain responsible for causing Alzheimer’s symptoms without affecting other areas in the brain.

According to Dirk Beher, one of authors of the report describing the groundbreaking research, this progress has been reached through an acute understanding of how a certain enzyme functions. The enzyme, gamma secretase, which is responsible for destroying brain cells, can now be partially tempered. The researchers are hopeful that this will allow for even greater progress in curing Alzheimer’s, offering a breath of fresh air to loved ones and caregivers of those suffering from the debilitating condition.

This breakthrough is significant because earlier trials of this drug were deemed failures in 2010, due to the harmful side effects which included skin cancer and internal bleeding. This enzyme has been researched in relation to treating Alzheimer’s for more than a decade, and finally the breakthrough has been achieved. The research, performed at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, explains how the buildup of certain plaque leads to Alzheimer’s.

The new drug affects the enzyme which cuts APP, the protein which causes the dangerous clumping of plaque. By doing so, the researchers hope to be able to prevent the clumping which brings on Alzheimer’s disease, without causing any detrimental effects to seniors. According to the head researcher at Alzheimer's Research UK, Dr. Simon Ridley, the impressive nature of the drug is in how selectively it modifies the key enzyme without affecting other areas.

For more on this article, go to: Alzheimer's cure is close: Experts hail new drug breakthrough | Alzheimer's and Dementia News

Why Approach an In-Home Caregivers Agency

a family member homecare

With the American population aging rapidly, there has been a significant increase in the demand for in-home caregiving. Although homecare is consistently found to be the preferred option of seniors, it is a form of care which often places a large amount of unintended strain on the patient’s loved ones.

This is not a problem to be underestimated, as the phenomenon of “caregiver distress” is a condition that is becoming as frequent as it is harmful. The high level of responsibility and the sheer pressure in caring for a loved one can have unfortunate consequences for the caregiver.

 According to one recent study on this subject, there were indications of depression in more than half of the caregivers entrusted with providing care to individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. Often, this immense burden of caregiving can result in physical symptoms as well, including diabetes, heart disease, and other dangerous conditions.

Moreover, this is by no means a small minority of in-home caregivers. Thirty-seven percent of caregivers reported experiencing depression, while a whopping seventy-four percent reported sensations of severe fatigue. Nearly one out of three in-home caregivers gained weight while caregiving.

Certain individuals are more liable to experience these immense levels of stress, including women who are more likely to experience an increase in their blood sugar and insulin levels, worse cholesterol, and higher levels of psychological distress. Caregivers who themselves are dealing with their own medical conditions are also more likely to develop negative symptoms as a result of increased stress.

Fortunately, there is an affordable alternative form of in-home caregiving, and that is to seek out the help of a homecare agency. In recent years, technological advancements have enabled an extremely high level of care at low costs to seniors and their loved ones. Agencies can provide the care that seniors require, without experiencing any unintended stress that currently plagues many caregivers.

Senior Home Care Services Continue to Grow

A Family Member HomeCare

 The senior home care services sector has experienced consistent growth in recent times, and this is a trend that shows no signs of letting up. According to the latest jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers of jobs in the home healthcare sector continues to increase at a remarkable rate.
The jobs report indicates that in July of 2013, the sector added a considerable 3,900 jobs. These numbers are even more significant when you factor into this equation that the employment numbers in competing sectors, such as in nursing homes, hospitals and other care facilities, continue to decline.

As Americans continue to age, the home healthcare industry is booming corresponding to the increase in demand. In fact, the overall growth in the entire health sector—which the BLS reported as 2,500 jobs—is largely the result of the surge in senior home care services. Otherwise, the health industry would have experienced a loss of approximately two thousand jobs.

This increase in the demand for elderly home care services is expected to continue, as seniors overwhelmingly prefer home care to the alternatives. Based on one analysis by the strategists of the acclaimed Avalere Health company, jobs in the home care sector will grow at a rate 5.5 times more quickly than all non-farm industries over the next several years. Considering that many sectors are in a stage of steep decline, economists are looking at home care agencies with a hopeful eye.

Not only are home healthcare services the preferred option for seniors, they are consistently found to be cost-effective and even adhere to higher clinical standards. There was a time when safe treatment was relegated to nursing homes and hospitals, but with recent technological advancements, quality home care is a viable alternative for an increasing number of Americans.

For more on the article, please visit: Home healthcare sector: A steady source of job growth, employment in healthcare field.

Portraits of the Elderly

This was done by photographer Tom Hussey who captured seniors reflecting on their youth as they once were in a mirror. Beautifully done. 

You can find more photographs here and a link to the photographer: Reflections

Another Loism

home caring | quality home care
Age may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul

How to Work With Mild Cognitive Impairment

alzheimer's disease parkinsons care tips

What is mild cognitive impairment?

MCI (mild cognitive impairment) can happen to everyone. Sometimes MCI is known as "senior moments" because we don't process things as quickly as we did when we were younger. While some people will develop significant memory loss and unfortunately, will be unable to live safely on their own. These people have developed conditions that bring on full-blown dementia such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

Then there are those that can still function with some memory loss and live independently. These are the people who have developed MCI and these signs include greater than usual difficulty with remembering recent events, a scheduled appointment, or following a thread of conversation or movie plot, making decisions, following instructions, etc. Half of people who become diagnosed with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia on average within five years. The rest tend to stay at this mild level of memory loss, with a small number making improvements over time!

If you do believe that your loved one has MCI, it is important to schedule an appointment for a medical exam as soon as possible. Sometimes the symptoms of MCI can actually be a side effect of a particular medication or even sleep apnea or alcohol abuse and it's good to discern the problem quickly. Be sure to follow up every since months to track the changes.

If your relative actually does have MCI, there is no concrete treatment as of yet. However, there are ways to prolong better brain function such as increasing social and mental activity, as well as maintaining good physical fitness. Brain health relies on all of these so passive activities such as watching television isn't very helpful.

If you don't have the time to do this sort of supervision, call on your local home care agency to find a professional caregiver | private home nurse care | geriatric care manager.

Age Is It's Own Beauty

Do it with dignity and the eyes are always smiling.

home care agency south florida

Taking a Vacation Without Mom or Dad

Sometimes, taking an extended break to recharge your levels is the best way to care for your loved one. Here are some tips to help you plan in advance when leaving care to someone else: 
  • Family members. Ask other family members several months to a year ahead of time when you'd like a break so that can prepare. If they are remote from where you and your elder live, then have them arrive early so that you can go over your routine with them. This is especially important if your elder has memory problems and easing them into the same routine with a different person can help keep down the elder's anxiety. 
  • Agencies. If seeking help from an agency, give yourself at least three months of lead-generation time to find the right home caregiver. Trial several agencies and their senior caregivers before you leave for your break. 
  • Facilities. Just as you would seek help from an agency, start researching facilities for short-term residential care three months ahead of time. Try having lunch with your elder there several times in order to get him or her acclimated as well as to find out if the facility is suitable. Also, the staff and administration will be thankful that you gave them enough notice for them to meet your schedule. 
  • Geriatric care managers. Geriatric care managers can actually offer "vacation packages" where they find and hire care and provide supervision while you're gone. 

These other services can be helpful if your relative does not need assistance with personal care:
  • checking in daily with a call to a friend, nearby relative, or a phone visiting service;
  • a medical alert system for your elder to press in case he or she needs to summon emergency help;
  • meals-on-wheels
Also ensure that all bills are up to date or prepaid and that adequate supplies of medications are on hand.

In case of emergency, leave complete information about your relative’s medical insurance, health history, current prescriptions, and doctor and pharmacy contacts. Include a completed advance care directive where someone can easily find it and instructions about how to reach you. 

Craftiness is Not Optional

I came across this arts and craft ideas for seniors and it reminded me of the classes held at a Boca Raton care facility that were favorites among the residents. Beading and knitting is a fun, creative activity for seniors and even if they are unable or unwilling to participate, just watching others and getting involved in the conversations was a good time for everyone. Craftiness is Not Optional also offers recipes ideas for those that love spending time in the kitchen. 

Granny Gizmos

Ergonomic pens for seniors, multi-grip bottle openers and grip doornob adapters for arthritic fingers, EZ jar opener, etc... this site's inventions for old people targets those that could benefit from the "nifty" inventions.

Presto Email-Free for Seniors to Keep In Touch with Family

Presto is a Bay-Area company that foregoed computers when they developed a printer that produces a hard-copy email for seniors that don't use computers. I thought this idea could also work for second generation Americans with foreign parents that don't speak English well and that don't use the computer for that reason.

products for the elderly

Senior caregivers could help dependent seniors receive these messages and read them aloud if needed. The printer is $99 and refundable in 60-days while the service is $189 a year or $18.99 a month, definitely not outrageously expensive considering the value of keeping in touch with family. 

Smile = Good Feelings

Palm Beach County South Florida Caregivers

I had just learned a card trick that would make it seem as if I pulled a single card from the air when I visited an elderly man at an assisted living facility in Palm Beach County, Florida. He had been a "serious man" all his life so when I asked his son if his dad ever liked magic, his fiercely shook his head and said, no. I asked the son only to show him that when seniors have far progressed with Alzheimer's disease, they become entertained again by the small things we take for granted as adults. So I placed a blank palm before the elderly man's eyes for a few seconds... and then I pulled the card from "thin air" and the man's mouth immediately widened into a toothless grin. I did this five separate times within the hour and he smiled each time, holding that expression for a few seconds each. That was five more times he smiled that day than if I hadn't done the card trick.

Home Health Services vs. Institutions

palm beach county home health services

It's not uncommon for the younger generation to say, "I'd rather die than end up in a nursing home." In some cases, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference when you see the elderly in a vegetative, medicated state, far away from their families, pleasure completely devoid from their faces. 

But what if you knew that as you got older, you could live in your home with a professional caregiver? Caregivers are a fraction of the cost of assisted living facilities and you'd be kept warm and be attended to at all hours of the day when needed. Instead of being put into your room because the institution you are enrolled into has limited staff members, you could have a caregiver friend making sure you are okay. 

Seniors may opt to live in nursing homes in order to avoid becoming "burdens." But having a caregiver assist you inside your home is a way for families to not become overstressed and to be able to keep a loved family member nearby. I visited my friend's grandfather named Eddy in Palm Beach County who home health care services after his family pulled him out of a posh retirement home, having noticed that the staff were too busy to notice that his dentures went missing for weeks. As a result, the fed him mushed food for those two weeks, not remembering that he usually ate solid foods. Also, when his family requested for simple things such as playing a CD with his favorite music, they disregarded the request. Now Eddy has his old room in the family house and a home health aide living in Hollywood, Florida visits him daily and sleeps over on the weekends. Eddy smiles more and spends a lot of his day listening to his favorite tunes, something that even people with severe stages of Alzheimer's can still enjoy. 

Good Caregivers Are Like Good Friends

Lucy, a good caregiver in Boca Raton, Florida shared with me her experiences working with Mary, an 85-year-old lady with late stages Alzheimer's disease. Mary used to suffer from depression and took her medications as prescribed for. She lived alone except with a caregiver for almost ten years after her husband passed away and developed Alzheimer's disease in six of those years. Her family said as a result of the onset of her disease, Mary seemed to remain in limbo with her grief. Caregivers came and went but when Lucy started, the family noticed a remarkable difference in Mary's temperament. Mary just seemed less agitated and stopped wanting to sleep throughout the day. She finally seemed to enjoy their outdoor activities together and smiled more often. 

Mary couldn't call Lucy by name nor could she locate Lucy in a photograph even if Lucy was standing next to people that were of drastically different ages. But when Mary was with Lucy, Mary behaved as if she expected Lucy to be with her, and even introduced her as a "friend," something she never did before as her family also noted that Mary was resistant to the other caregivers around her, saying that she felt "mothered."

I asked Lucy what she did every day to help ease Mary's sadness. Lucy said that she did for Mary what she'd do for any friend: "I was just a good friend. I listened to her speak, I told her stories to amuse her, and when she was sad, I was there for her to let her be sad until she was ready for us to have fun again." 

Caregivers are the Patient's Eyes and Ears

find caregivers palm beach county florida

One summer while I was a caregiver for a woman with severe Alzheimer's disease, she started telling me that her back hurt almost every day during our walks. Only, she couldn't describe what sort of pain it was.  I told her physician what had happened but he said that he tapped her back and she didn't feel pain to any of it. I wasn't entirely convinced that her mattress was poor enough to cause the problem but the only other place she spent a lot of time on was the dining room chair. I bought a new chair for her and shortly after that day, her back problems went away.

Victims of Alzheimer's disease cannot say when they are hurt. The best caregivers are aware that pain is present and do what it takes to heal.

Good Caregivers Like to Laugh

Keet and I always have a great time with Lo in NYC. Lo is an 80-year-old woman with late-stages Alzheimer's disease although you wouldn't know it unless you tried carrying a conversation with her for over a minute. In very short spurts, she appears sharp with her engaging smile and strong eye contact. Keet is Lo's new caregiver and together they make an awesome and comical team.

During my last visit to NYC, Keet tried to get Lo to take a photograph of us with her iPhone. Keet explained how to hold the phone and press the camera icon to take a photograph. Of course, Lo didn't remember any of the instructions. She pressed all sorts of places on the screen and then said as she stared at the display, "Okay... someone is wearing a blue shirt..." Keet and I suddenly looked at each other and cracked up giggling. Lo was wearing a blue shirt and had accidentally pressed the flip mode on the camera and didn't realize that she was staring at herself. Still, she proceeded to make sense of what she was staring at by finding the next thing close to the color blue before her.

"There," she pointed to my purple duffel bag. We laughed louder. Lo began to laugh, too, although she admitted, "I have no idea why you two are laughing." We teased her as we explained why we were laughing and she laughed again with us.  The good caregiver with a sense of humor can do a lot to help the client laugh and feel happy throughout the day. Clients with dementia become more easy to amuse as the disease progresses so it's fair to take advantage of the situation by making them easily laugh, the way we all did as children to simple jokes, funny gestures, and sometimes, just by watching others have a good time.