Senior Day at the Capitol

Each year, when our state legislature is in session (February to May) we have a day specifically dedicated to our senior population conducted at the State Capitol. We call this day Senior Day at the Capitol. A quick perusal of the Internet shows several others states conducting them as well. The best way to find out if your state has one is to call 2-1-1 (if you have that service) or call the state Area Agency on Aging.
February 25, 2013 is Senior Day in Oklahoma. It is a free event where you can learn about legislation and issues affecting seniors, share ideas and concerns with your own legislator, visit with many nonprofit agencies and inquire about services available.
Registration begins about 8:30 AM. At 10:00 AM there will be a program in the house chambers where several legislators, including the Speaker of the House, will welcome the seniors and their caregivers to the capitol. From 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM is reserved for seniors and their caregivers to visit with their personal representative or senator about personal concerns. Of course, there are times when a particular person is not in the office and it is always disappointing when someone has driven 300 miles only to be told no one will speak to them that day.
The bad news is that nothing ever gets changed or solidified on that day. The good news is that participating in a rally day at the capitol will ensure that you or your loved one will receive vital information for use in your personal situation whether it is from one of the many social agencies, private agencies, or from a legislator looking into a situation for you.
I work with legislators all the time and call a few my personal friends and they tell me that a face-to-face meeting from a constituent is more meaningful than a letter, a letter is more meaningful than a phone call and a phone call is more meaningful than an email. My advice is, as a constituent, communicate with your legislator in the most meaningful way you can because it will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.
I also want to recommend the website http://www.care.com for those of you who are caregivers. You may already be aware of it but for those who are not, you can find out a great deal of information through them. Recently, journalist Julia Szcesuil, from Care sent me a media request and interviewed me about certain programs, talked about within my book, Taking Care of Mom and Dad: A Baby Boomer’s Resource Guide found here: Taking Care of Mom and Dad
I researched Care.com before agreeing to the interview and found it to be a very informative site. Please visit if you can! Until next time KD

Free Caregiver Resource eBook: 8/26/12 Only!

Very important for those who are caregivers or know they will be one day soon.

 On 8/26/12 from 12 AM to 11:59 PM, my “Taking Care of Mom and Dad” eBook will be free on Amazon.com!

You don’t need a Kindle to get it – a PC, Android, or any number of eReaders will do just fine. Amazon has a free download for you to use. Download the reader and then download the eBook!

This book is regularly $6.99. If you have a need or know any followers that need help with caregiving, please share/tweet/google+ or do whatever you need to. I am happy to give this away for one day.

In order to get the eBook, click on the icon to the right or right here: http://amzn.to/KxtD7B 

Professionals in Aging

From Elder Care Channel

This blog has brought many new people into my life, most of whom are caregivers looking for assistance with the most difficult job they will ever do. However, it has also brought many people who call themselves professionals in the aging field. Most are wonderful individuals who are happy to have another resource to use. However, I have found recently that the profession is fraught with those who have a ridiculously long list of nonsensical alphabet letters following their last name and seem to creep other’s blogs and scream “look at me” “LOOK AT ME” while attempting to point out weak points and publicly embarrass said blogger. They get caught up in their own experience, blowing its importance way out of proportion and attempting to minimize the experience and wisdom of others.

All this tilting at windmills like Don Quixote makes me wonder why they got into the profession in the first place. Was it to help those aged 65 and older? Was it to assist a caregiver be the best they can be while providing care for another? Or, was it to shore up sagging egos and huge insecurities? You must stay away from these folks as they are NOT here to help you. They are here to help themselves.

You, as a caregiver, should be aware of these folks. Listed below are a few ways to tell if they are serving the public or serving themselves:

1. Do they begin every email, post, conversation or reply with a rundown of their “credentials”? Often, when a person attempts to dazzle you with their “expertise” they are masking a disingenuous motive. These individuals also seem to have an insatiable need to be right. They are going to tell you the “right” thing to do – that will help them, make them feel like an expert, or put money in their own pocket. They should really be offering suggestions so you can decide what is right for you and your loved one.

2. Do they jab you with little criticisms of inconsequential things you do or say and then follow up with, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful” or “I hope I haven’t offended you” – whatever phrase they use the answer is: Yes, that is exactly what they meant!

3. When you have asked them a question about your situation, do they often turn the conversation around to them and their experience? When a “professional” does that, they want you to do what THEY did in the same situation, not what is right for you.

4. Do they speak in extremes using words like Always, Everything, and Never? Individuals who speak in this manner are not going to help you; they want to control you.

5. If you don’t take their suggestion, do they become silent and sullen? Get angry? Or, shut you out?

Here’s what I know for sure: An education (and I have a stellar one) does not, in any way, make someone an expert. Neither do initials behind your name or owning any kind of business. It is the combination of education and firsthand experience that makes for a subject matter expert. Announcing your so-called credentials does nothing but call attention to your lack of decorum and professionalism.

Food Bloggers have a Code of Ethics. Those who blog about seniors, Caregiving, and family issues should have one too. Without one that those who are really professionals choose to follow, it is the Wild West in Blogland.

Let me introduce you to Kathy Greenlee the new head of the Administration of Community Living. You have to force her to tell you what her “credentials” are – she is an attorney – and you can see, in the following interview, her concern for caregivers and those they care for. THIS is the kind of confident and knowledgeable person you want helping you in making decisions for you and your loved one. It may take you a few tries to find the right one, but keep trying – it’s worth it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K75zTMvKf1o

Early Predictor of Cognitive Decline?

This is a link to a NY Times article on presentations at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Vancouver last month. It has some interesting theories on how changes in gait and Alzheimer’s or demntia may be related. Please enjoy!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/health/research/signs-of-cognitive-decline-and-alzheimers-are-seen-in-gait.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Important Article on Hiring a Caregiver Privately

This article is so important, I copied it to paste here instead of just giving you the link. If you are considering private employment of a caregiver – PLEASE ask the questions at the end of the article. There is not much control over private industry home health.

Dangerous Caregivers for Elderly: Agencies Place Unqualified, Possibly Criminal Caregivers in Homes of Vulnerable Seniors, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (July 10, 2012) — If you hire a caregiver from an agency for an elderly family member, you might assume the person had undergone a thorough criminal background check and drug testing, was experienced and trained for caregiving. You’d be wrong in many cases, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

A troubling new national study finds many agencies recruit random strangers off Craigslist and place them in the homes of vulnerable elderly people with dementia, don’t do national criminal background checks or drug testing, lie about testing the qualifications of caregivers and don’t require any experience or provide real training.

“People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency,” said lead study author Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It’s dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired.”

The study will be published in the July 13 issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
Lindquist, a geriatrician, personally has seen a number of bad caregivers accompanying patients in her clinic. “Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it’s scary and really puts the senior at risk,” she said.

Lindquist had a 103-year-old patient whose illiterate caregiver was mixing up her own medications and the patient’s medications. The caregiver was giving her own medicines to the elderly patient by mistake. Another patient had dropped 10 percent of her weight and developed pressure ulcers because her caregiver was not properly feeding her or getting her out of bed.
“It was easier for the caregiver to sit and watch TV and not to try to feed the patient or move her,” Lindquist said. Several agencies surveyed in the study actually made up names of screening tests they claimed to give their job applicants.

“We had agencies say they used a ‘National Scantron Test for Inappropriate Behavior’ and an ‘Assessment of Christian Morality Test’,” Lindquist said. “To our knowledge, these tests don’t exist. If you’re not a smart consumer, you won’t recognize which agencies are being deceitful.”

Identifying the good agencies from the bad is difficult because many agencies have slick websites and marketing campaigns, she added. “It’s a cauldron of potentially serious problems that could really hurt the senior,” Lindquist said. “These agencies are a largely unregulated industry that is growing rapidly with high need as our population ages. This is big business with potentially large profit margins and lots of people are jumping into it.”

For the study, researchers posed as consumers and surveyed 180 agencies around the country about their hiring methods, screening measures, training practices, skill competencies assessments and supervision. They found:

Only 55 percent of the agencies did a federal background check.
“A number of agencies don’t do a federal background check or look at other states besides their own,” Lindquist said. “Someone could move from Wisconsin to Illinois and could have been convicted of abusing an elder adult or theft or rape and the agency would never know.”

Only one-third of agencies interviewed said they did drug testing.
“Considering that seniors often take pain medications, including narcotics, this is risky,” Lindquist said. “Some of the paid caregivers may be illicit drug users and could easily use or steal the seniors’ drugs to support their own habits.”

Few agencies (only one-third) test for caregiver skill competency. A common method of assessing skill competencies was “client feedback,” which was explained as expecting the senior or family member to alert the agency that their caregiver was doing a skill incorrectly.
“How do you expect a senior with dementia to identify what the caregiver is doing wrong?” Lindquist asked.

Many agencies (58.5 percent) use self-reports in which they ask the caregiver to describe their own skills. “In the hunt for a job, some people may report they can do tasks that in reality they have no idea how to do,” Lindquist said. “We found agencies sending caregivers out into the seniors’ home without checking.”

Inconsistent supervision of the caregiver.
Agencies should send a supervisor to do a home visit to check on the caregivers more frequently initially and then at least once a month. But this only occurred with 30 percent of the agencies.
“Amazingly, some agencies considered supervision to be asking the caregiver how things were going over the phone or when the employee stopped in to get their paycheck,” Lindquist said.
With seniors wishing to remain in their own homes, paid caregivers fill an important role.
“The public should demand higher standards, but in the short term, seniors need to be aware what explicitly to look for when hiring a paid caregiver through an agency,” Lindquist said.

Below are Lindquist’s 10 questions to ask an agency prior to hiring a paid caregiver:

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE HIRING A CAREGIVER
1. How do you recruit caregivers, and what are your hiring requirements?
2. What types of screenings are performed on caregivers before you hire them? Criminal background check — federal or state? Drug screening? Other?
3. Are they certified in CPR or do they have any health-related training?
4. Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency?
5. What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home? (These could include lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills such as bathing, dressing, toileting, training in behavioral management and cognitive support.)
6. How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
7. What is your policy on providing a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?
8. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, will a substitute be provided?
9. Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently?

Gifts for the Caregiver

When a birthday or holiday arrives, so begins the difficult task of choosing a gift for the caregiver. Often, the caregiver knows what they need but is too embarrassed or “self- sufficient” to ask. If you are a caregiver and have trouble asking for things, send a link to this article to all your family.

First, let’s be realistic about the phrase, “Just let me know what you need and I’ll do it”. By and large, that is not going to happen. We are not a society conditioned to ask for or accept help graciously. The following is a list of gifts that any caregiver would find wonderful!

Scheduled Relief
The best way to offer this gift is for 2 or more family members to get together and make up a gift card something like this: “On the second Thursday of each month we (insert names here) would like to offer you a treat. We will all arrive at your home around 6:00 PM. Please be dressed and ready to go out to dinner, our treat. One or more of us will enjoy a meal with you at the restaurant of your choice while one or more of us will stay with our loved one. We will firm up plans on the second Monday of each month through a phone call.” That gives the caregiver a set date and time to plan for and it gives the gift givers a consistent date to plan the rest of their lives around.

Prepared or Purchased Meals
Another great gift for the caregiver might be drop ship, fully prepared meals for two. There are many services available. Search the Internet for “drop ship meals for seniors” or “home delivery of frozen meals for seniors”. For the caregiver, this will help not only with time and effort to prepare meals but also with the cost. If the cost of drop ship meals is too expensive for your budget, try purchasing gift cards to restaurants that deliver. An even more economical choice would be to prepare meals yourself, taking several over once per month to be used at the caregiver’s convenience.

Outdoor Care
If you live nearby and are so inclined, a gift of bi-weekly lawn mowing throughout lawn mowing season would be of great help. If you can afford it, purchasing a season-long contract with a landscaping company will take the worry out of what to do about the yard each year.

Stylist
One of the best gifts you can give a caregiver is one they use only for themselves; if a woman, to her stylist and if a man, to his barber. The caregiver will let themselves go in order to pay for some needed item for the care receiver. My mother has been getting her hair “done” once per week for her entire adult life. Each Christmas, Mother’s Day and Birthday I purchase a gift certificate in the amount needed to pay for 12 hair-dos and one permanent. Her stylist is thrilled to have one lump sum of cash each time I come in and mom is able to keep up her hair which is very important to her.

Cable Television
Another gift I recently purchased for mom is one that most people do not think of: cable television. Mother has basic cable but she loves a channel that shows westerns and another channel that shows sit-coms and movies geared towards senior adults. Those two channels are a part of premium service that she cannot afford. I went to my local cable store and asked that they set up the premium service and put that portion on my cable bill. Because she is inside most of the time now it is more enjoyable for her, watching TV she likes and for me, a relatively low cost gift meted out over 12 months.

Time
The final and probably the most welcome is the gift of time. Visit the caregiver in person, by telephone or by Skype regularly. Set up a consistent time and date convenient for you both and then don’t miss it! While it may take several times for them to accept the visits, they will quickly begin to look forward to them. Especially if you don’t judge how they feel or what they are doing. Just listen.

Silver Alert

Today, we had a Silver Alert and it reminded me that not all states have such a wonderful program.

Silver Alert is a public notification system in the United States to broadcast information about missing persons – especially seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or other mental disabilities – in order to aid in their return. -Wikipedia-

As I began researching it, I wondered what the holdup was on a National Silver Alert system. Apparently, one of the reasons is money. A senator said that it would cost $59,000,000 over a period of 5 years. That’s $8.5 million per year or $1.4 million per month. The feds pay out $75,000,000 per month in SNAP benefits to our state each month and our state is a small, rural market. I really don’t get that argument.

The other argument is that a Silver Alert would take away from the child Amber Alerts. Hmmm……so THAT argument would indicate that one human life is worth more than the other merely because of age. I bet those are the same people who preach about media portraying youth and beauty in an unbalanced way. Either way, Silver Alerts are lifesavers for many.

This is how the states stack up and who to call in your loved one’s state about their Silver Alert or alike program:

As of June 2012, 41 states have implemented Silver Alert programs. Several others are pending.
For more information, contact the state agency responsible for the program’s administration or
local law enforcement. ~Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Alabama
Name: Missing Senior Alert Plan
Eligibility: senior citizen with dementia or other deterioration of intellectual faculties
Administrator: Alabama Department of Public Safety

Arizona
Name: Endangered Person Alert
Eligibility: adult with significant health problem or medically-diagnosed disability (i.e.,
dementia)
Administrator: Arizona Department of Public Safety

Arkansas
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: senior or adult with cognitive disorder
Administrator: Arkansas State Police/Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association/Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police

Colorado
Name: Missing Senior Citizen and Person with Developmental Disabilities Alert Program
Eligibility: 60 or older with verified impaired mental condition; person with developmental
disability
Administrator: Colorado Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Investigation

Connecticut
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: 65 or older; 18 or older with mental impairment
Administrator: Connecticut Department of Public Safety

Delaware
Name: Gold Alert Program
Eligibility: 60 or older; person with disability
Administrator: Delaware State Police

Florida
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: cognitively-impaired adults who become lost while driving
Administrator: Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Georgia
Name: Mattie’s Call
Eligibility: adults who are cognitively-impaired or developmentally-impaired
Administrator: Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Illinois
Name: Endangered Missing Person Advisory Program
Eligibility: seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia
Administrator: Illinois Department of Aging/Illinois State Police

Indiana
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: 18 or older with mental illness, dementia or other physical or mental incapacity
Administrator: Indiana Clearinghouse for Information on Missing Children and Missing Endangered Adults/Indiana State Police

Iowa
Name: Endangered Person Advisory
Eligibility: adults with dementia
Administrator: Iowa Department of Public Safety

Kansas
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: person with dementia; 65 or older
Administrator: Kansas Bureau of Investigation

Kentucky
Name: Golden Alert
Eligibility: impaired person with developmental disability; person with physical, mental or
cognitive impairment
Administrator: Kentucky Division of Emergency Management

Louisiana
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: 60 or older with diagnosed mental impairment
Administrator: Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

Maine
Name: Silver Alert Program
Eligibility: adults with dementia or developmental disabilities
Administrator: Maine Department of Public Safety

Maryland
Name: Silver Alert Program
Eligibility: 60 or older with cognitive impairment
Administrator: Maryland State Police

Massachusetts
Name: Silver Alert Community Response System
Eligibility: adult with serious memory impairment
Administrator: Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety

Minnesota
Name: Missing Children and Endangered Persons’ Program aka Brandon’s Law
Eligibility: all ages, including mentally impaired
Administrator: Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Mississippi
Name: Silver Alert System
Eligibility: 18 or older with dementia or other cognitive impairment
Administrator: Mississippi Department of Public Safety

Missouri
Name: Endangered Person Advisory
Eligibility: 18 or older
Administrator: Missouri State Highway Patrol

Montana
Name: Missing and Endangered Person Advisory
Eligibility: person believed to be in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability
Administrator: Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation

Nevada
Name: Statewide Alert System for Safe Return of Missing Endangered Older Persons
Eligibility: 60 or older
Administrator: Nevada Department of Public Safety

New Hampshire
Name: Missing Persons With a Developmental Disability and Missing Senior Citizen Alert Program
Eligibility: persons with developmental disability; 55 or older with verified impaired mental condition
Administrator: New Hampshire State Police

New Jersey
Name: Silver Alert System
Eligibility: person with cognitive impairment
Administrator: New Jersey State Police

New Mexico
Name: Endangered Person Advisory
Eligibility: endangered person, including person with degenerative brain disorder
Administrator: New Mexico Department of Public Safety

New York
Name: Missing Vulnerable Adult Alert Program
Eligibility: 18 or older with cognitive disorder, mental disability or brain disorder
Administrator: New York Division of Criminal Justice Services/ Missing Persons Clearinghouse

North Carolina
Name: Silver Alert Program
Eligibility: person with dementia or cognitive impairment
Administrator: North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Ohio
Name: Missing Adult Alert
Eligibility: 65 or older; or adult with mental impairment
Administrator: Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation

Oklahoma
Name: Silver Alert Program
Eligibility: 60 or older with dementia or other cognitive impairment
Administrator: Oklahoma Department of Public Safety

Pennsylvania
Name: Missing and Endangered Person Advisory System (MEPAS)
Eligibility: endangered person due to age, mental or physical disability
Administrator: Pennsylvania State Police

Rhode Island
Name: Missing Senior Citizen Alert Program
Eligibility: 60 or older with impaired mental condition
Administrator: Rhode Island State Police

South Carolina
Name: Endangered Person Notification System
Eligibility: person with dementia or other cognitive impairment
Administrator: South Carolina Law Enforcement Division of Missing Persons/Missing Person Information Center

South Dakota
Name: Endangered Person’s Advisory
Eligibility: person believed to be in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability
Administrator: South Dakota State Police

Tennessee
Name: Senior Alert
Eligibility: 18 or older with dementia or disabled
Administrator: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Texas
Name: Silver Alert
Eligibility: 65 or older with diagnosed impaired mental condition
Administrator: Texas Department of Public Safety

Virginia
Name: Senior Alert System
Eligibility: 60 or older with cognitive impairment
Administrator: Virginia State Police

West Virginia
Name: Silver Alert Plan
Eligibility: person with cognitive impairment
Administrator: West Virginia State Police

Utah
Name: Endangered Person Advisory
Eligibility: person believed to be in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability
Administrator: Utah Department of Public Safety

Washington
Name: Endangered Missing Person Advisory Plan
Eligibility: person believed to be in danger due to age, health, mental or physical disability
Administrator: Washington State Patrol, Missing Persons Unit

Wisconsin

Name: Endangered Missing Person Alert
Eligibility: person believed to be in danger
Administrator: Wisconsin Crime Alert Network/Wisconsin Department of Justice

Wyoming
Name: Endangered Person Advisory
Eligibility: person believed to be in danger
Administrator: Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations

Pending: California, Hawaii, Michigan

No program: Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont

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