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Last chance is TODAY! Local residents can support Meals on Wheels by bidding on some terrific restaurants and other contributions available until 10PM EST tonight. March for Meals is a national campaign sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Association of America to raise awareness about senior hunger, recruit volunteer Meals on Wheels drivers and raise needed funds. This month the March for Meals online auction, with gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and other food-related businesses as well as Red Sox tickets. Place your bids here. Minuteman Senior Services is a non-profit organization that has been helping elders and their family caregivers in Massachusetts locate appropriate eldercare assistance since 1975. Their mission is to help seniors and people with disabilities live in the setting of their choice by engaging community resources and supporting caregivers. Over 22,000 people each year turn to them for help. Caring Companion Home Care has worked with Minuteman in a variety of capacities for years, including as an approved home care agency in their publicly-funded program for low-income seniors. Through the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Caring Companion Director of Care Dr Deborah Bier was trained in pilot program with the Massachusetts Alzheimers Association for Rehabilitation Therapy, and we now use this as the basis for all our Alzheimer's training for our caregivers and client families.
We were delighted to learn recently that CNN.com published a piece I had submitted on the unintended consequences of the Obama administration's intention to change the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding overtime for home care workers. Leaving aside for the moment the merits of the adminstration's proposal and the cautions I was raising as it is considered, it was a milestone for our agency to be on the national stage debating a piece of legislation this important.
Most of the reader comments indicated that people thought I was concerned about the home care agency's profits, but the fact is that the law, if passed, would not affect our profit by a single dollar. That is because Massachusetts already has an overtime provision, so we pay overtime to everyone who works more than 40 hours. What those readers do not realize is this:
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New technologies to help seniors, the disabled and their caregivers are being launched every day. It's a huge, growing industry worth billions of dollars annually. But there are so many new products and services coming to market that most people feel confused and overwhelmed. Do these devices mean real aid for aging in place, or just a new way to part elders with their money?
Learn how to sort out the "toys and gadgets" from the helpful technologies on the market today. "Aging, Disability & New Technologies: Real Hype or Real Help?" Instructors Jim Reynolds and Deborah Bier, PhD will help participants make more wise choices in this bewildering, rapidly expanding marketplace.
The session will review some of the
Sunday night I attended a workshop in Concord delivered by Harvard MA resident and hospice nurse Sue Dobbie. Sue has spent 40 years as a nurse, primarily in home care and hospice, and currently works at Community Health Network in Holliston, MA, which provides nurses to home care and hospice agencies.
Sue led a discussion of the 5 Wishes document, which is published by Aging with Dignity. 5 Wishes helps families plan for terminal illnesses in a sensitive and thoughtful way, to be sure that the person who is dying can have the medical treatment and palliative care that he or she prefers, and that final ceremonies and wills can be arranged in advance, knowing that the person's wishes are being honored.
Sue mentioned how many families avoid discussing these topics, as if denial can delay or avoid the events. Unfortunately, studies show that we all get older anyway, and that denial is not an effective strategy to avoid death. Given that these events are coming, families always experience them more peacefully if they know they are caring for the terminally ill elder (or patient of any age) in the most sensitive manner possible, and according to his or her wishes.
The 5 Wishes asks five simple questions:
Recently I had the pleasure of breakfast with William O. Lytle, author of The Essential Organizer: An Ongoing Record of your Estate and Personal Information. Bill has created a valuable tool that helps families do exactly what it advertises -- a much-needed exercise.
Bill is pleasant, thoughtful, and friendly, and in discussing his work he tells stories of families he has interviewed in preparation for this publication. He talks about how difficult these end-of-life planning conversations can be, and had contacted me after a recent blog post on strategies to guide families through these waters before dementia strikes or other events make the conversation impossible.
The upcoming film, Last Will and Embezzlement, starring Mickey Rooney and a host of legal and elder experts, will shine a light on the huge and growing problem of financial abuse of elders. The movie-makers' hope is to help those who have potentially-vulnerable adults in their lives to be on the look-out for signs of victimization, and maybe even make some waves in the communities where the rights of these citizens are not being looked after and protected by the public servants and law enforcement officials who are charged with that responsibility.
June 8, 2011, 8:00am–10:00am
50 W Main St, Hopkinton, MA
Golden Pond Assisted Living
50 W Main St, Hopkinton, MA 01748
Breakfast: 8 am
Presentation & Q&A: 8:30-10 am
RSVP to Golden Pond by June 6 at 508 435-1250
Sleep disturbances… resistance to care… suspiciousness… sundowning… hoarding… rummaging… These challenging behaviors can be frustrating, frightening, and exhausting for families and caregivers of dementia and alzheimers patients.
The new “Homestead Advantage Program” is being offered by Caring Resources of Norwood, MA. This program provides a cost-effective approach to dementia care and is aimed at helping dementia patients, their families and caregivers create the right environment and enable meaningful relationships.
Homestead Advantage encompasses individual caregiver education, support, guidance, care planning and appropriate referral sources to best meet the needs of the dementia client. This program includes a personalized, at-home assessment by a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a Geriatric Psychiatrist, and a Licensed Independent Social Worker to meet the clinical, social, and environmental needs of the dementia client.
Recently, I was honored to be part of a four-person panel at the Wayland Public Library speaking on the topic "What's New in Aging?" We discussed navigating the new terrain of aging in the 21st century, followed by a question and answer session from the audience. Juergen H. Bludau, MD (photo at right), Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital geriatrician, and Carol Sneider Glick, Esq, elder law specialist with Squillace & Associates of Boston, were wonderful fellow panelists. (Part 2 of this talk is scheduled for April 6, 7pm at the same location - register here)
I want to note here high points of the evening, including the excellent questions the audience brought. I felt very much at home in the company of these speakers, all on the front lines of bringing best-quality care in a quickly changing landscape. My fellow panelists as well as the audience of about 45 from Wayland, Weston and beyond were enthusiastic and engaged with every presenter's points.
By Guest Blogger, Roberta Carson, Founder of ZaggoCare
June 29, 2005: the day our vibrant 17 year old son Zachary (photo at right, I'm beside him) was diagnosed with an inoperable, terminal brain tumor and given 4-6 weeks to live. I was completely shocked and overwhelmed by this horrible news, barely able to manage even the simplest of tasks. However, as anyone who has been a patient or family caregiver knows, the job of navigating through the medical world is enormous and very stressful. We are not trained or prepared; we are thrust into a whirlwind of appointments, learning medical terms we cannot pronounce, making treatment decisions without fully understanding all that is involved, taking care of the daily needs of a patient, and more, all while trying to maintain a sense of “normalcy”.
Topics in this just-published snailmail newsletter:
Download this newsletter here: CCCnewsletterv2.1 (if you would like to receive our next newsletter by email or snailmail -- or to have it sent to a friend, client or family member --
A recent New York Times article entitled A Health Insurer Pays More to Save pointed out that regular monitoring of even simple health measures led to a drop in hospital re-admissions and overall costs. They are giving primary care doctors more help to try to keep patients, especially elderly patients, in their homes by improving monitoring and reporting to head off serious health problems.
This points to an area where the home care industry could contribute far more than we do today in reducing the costs of health care and improving quality of life for our clients: providing real-time information and reporting to health care professionals and families to confirm that plans of treatment are followed, and to report any changes in status as early as possible for follow up.
We recently met with Natasha Heimrath of Caregiver Homes, a community-based model of care for frail seniors and disabled people 16 and older to be cared for at home and in their community. The state-funded program pays caregivers – typically, but not always, a family member – who provide full-time care at home, and it supports each client and caregiver with a case management team. In some instances, this stipend allows families to bring an outside caregiver into the home for respite (relief) for the main caregiver.
Our experience suggests that many families are eligible for this program and don't realize it. We encourage our clients to make use of this program, and have contacted those who we think may be eligible to put them in touch with Natasha. We are happy to facilitate this relationship and will work cooperatively with Caregiver Homes any time we serve clients concurrently.
To be covered by the Caregiver Homes program, clients must be eligible for Medicare/MassHealth or be eligible for a "Frail Elder Waiver" (which has a higher income allowance than does Medicare). The caregiver to receive the stipend may not be a legal guardian or spouse, and does not need to be related to the client.
We publish a periodic newsletter (available via snailmail and/or email) with articles about the work we do, aging in place technology, enhancing your or your loved ones' care at home, helping caregivers, hands-on caregiving, and all the other topics we talk about more extensively on this blog. Download the current copy in Acrobat (PDF) format here, or click on the image at right.
Would you like to receive a copy via snailmail? Or send a copy to someone who prefers paper? Send the name and address
Prior to beginning services for clients, we sign a contact with families so that they know exactly what we are providing, exactly what they can expect from us, and what we need from them. The Services Agreement is nothing more than a personalized version of our basic services, terms, and conditions in the document below. We review these line by line with families before we sign contracts, to be sure we answer any questions.
Here's another look at wellness, and a good example of how we all can adopt a wellness practice despite many illnesses or disabilities. Also the mysterious -- but clearly present -- relationship between giving selflessly, having a sense of purpose and increased health and wellbeing.
Research shows that people enhance their quality of life enormously by being altruistic; that is, giving with no expectation of receiving something in return. Note that a restored sense of purpose and demonstration that the person can still make a difference are key (fascinating article about it from CNN here). Also note that giving money is not discussed as part of this equation. (Unless it's enough to make a clear and lasting difference, I think money -- though important to give -- does not result in as much of this type of bang for the buck – pun intended.)
Our custom app tracks iPhone/Android-toting seniors at risk of getting lost. Call for details!
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