Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

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 

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?

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

Great Article in NY Times…and, a little more info.

The Affordable Health Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday with each state having the option of whether to expand Medicaid or not. Many states’ Governors, including the gov. in my state, has denounced the decision and said they are each considering NOT accepting Medicaid expansion – the expansion is a requirement for the 100% financial pick up of Affordable Care Act (ACA) costs the first few years and then 90% after that. They say they cannot afford the expansion of Medicaid and it’s expansion……….nice try. This is a lot of smoke and mirrors as they pander to the most financially conservative of their state residents.

I’m not making a political statement at all so please do not mistake this for one. This is purely financial and state government knowledge. Medicaid is paid through matching funds between the state and the federal government. The state portion is determined based on the economy of the state – how well the state is doing financially. My state is one of the more financially solvent states and has not suffered as much during the recession like many other states, mostly because of our oil production. Our state’s match is about 68/32 which means that for every Medicaid dollar spent in our state – the feds pay $.68 cents and our state pays $.32 cents. So, as an economically stable state we pay 1/3 of medicaid costs – the states who are worse off economically pay even less. Another thing to consider is that those who are not currently covered, remain ill longer and then one day the MUST go to the ER or clinic or some other medical facility and then the state will have to pick up 100% of the costs.

The ACA will expand mostly waivers and those waivers target mostly the elderly and disabled of the United States. Paid at 100%. These are the most costly eligibles there are…….Hmmm…. Really? The other thing about costs that are paid 100% by the feds (Child Day Care and SNAP – formerly Food Stamps are both 100% reimbursement) is that if our state decides not to take it then other states get even more, because that money is going to go somewhere. I remember when former California Governor Schwartzenegger went into office. He fussed and fumed about how the state was broke and how he was going to cut off the “free lunch” of Food Stamps. I remember thinking that he was either the stupidiest governor ever or he had the most stupid advisers ever. And then someone explained to him how Food Stamps really work and who they REALLY benefit (grocery store owners, farmers, and trucking companies) the most. Soon he was touting the program and seeking out any and everyone in California who would qualify in order to apply for the Food Stamp Benefit.

Since ACA will work much like Food Stamps and those who will benefit the MOST will be hospitals, clinics, private physician’s offices, and health therapy facilities – I would say all this strutting and posturing of governors is just that. Either they already know this is financially sound to help their states out of the mess they are already in, or one of their advisers will get to them and educated them PDQ. Then they will release a statement saying their hands are tied, and they are forced to take the money. And then they will.

In the end, it will help the elderly and disabled the most and they ARE the most costly folks in the Medicaid system. So whatever your feelings are about the Affordable Care Act, it is coming and we should prepare for the inevitable.

You can find the NY Times article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/us/politics/some-states-reluctant-over-medicaid-expansion.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120630

Excellent Article from Denver Post

This link leads to a newspaper article by Kevin Simpson of the Denver Post.  He writes about Jose and Phil Gallegos as well as Phil’s wife Claudia.  Phil and Claudia are Baby Boomers who took in Jose, Phil’s dad, after his mother’s death last year.  This is a poignant story about coming to terms with role reversal and new family adjustments.  Read it, you will enjoy it!

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20875209/aging-boomers-take-parents-roles-reverse

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