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Relieve caregiver stress during the holidays


Lighten your load as a caregiver this holiday season

Ah, the holiday season. It’s the most wonderful time of year- right? As we all know it can be a very busy and stressful time too. Between the shopping, cooking, and traveling it gets hectic. This is especially true for those who serve as a primary caregiver to a loved one. In particular, the “sandwich generation” may be caring for an elderly parent and bringing kids back from college for winter break. Caregivers deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas just as much as the next guy, if not more.

First comes daylight savings, then Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and just like that it’s December. Whether you need a few good hours to fight the Christmas shopping crowds or plan to travel; is it feasible to do so with a frail loved one living alone, who needs your daily attention? And for many caregivers, it doesn’t matter what season it is, there just are not enough hours in the day. However, here are several solutions that can make your life a bit more manageable.

Consider tech and other supportive services

First, there are some great technology solutions. An emergency call system, such as Philips Lifeline®, can be the difference between your loved one getting help immediately after falling versus laying there for hours before they’re discovered. The Lifeline with Autoalert can detect a fall and send a signal even if the user forgets or is unable to push the button for help. There are also versions of emergency call systems that work both in and outside the home. They feature GPS tracking technology, which is especially helpful for those with dementia who may wander. Apps and home monitoring systems like GrandCare® can provide a level of comfort and connectedness for loved ones near or far. Facetime, is available on most Apple devices or Skype are a few other ways to provide that vital face-to-face interaction.

If you have aversion to technology, another option is non-medical home care. Hire an aid to come stay with mom or dad for several hours or several days. There are number of non-medical home-care agencies around to pick from. Particularly, Messiah Lifeways at Home offers traditional home-care services like help with bathing, housekeeping, and cooking. They also provide unique home care services like replacing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries, organizing, (un)packing decorations, transportation, and even pet and plant care. Another great choice are Adult Day Programs. Messiah Lifeways Adult Day offers a day program where a loved one can come for a full or half day of activities, socialization, meals, plus receive assistance with activities of daily living. These programs are cost effective and offer great flexibility because your loved one can attend once a week or multiple days. What a great gift to give yourself, the gift of time and security.

Peace of mind for holiday travel

As family becomes more spread out, it leaves many caregivers with the predicament of traveling versus staying home for the holidays. What if your loved one can’t make the 10 hour drive or the cross country flight? This decision is tough. However, if you choose to go away for the holidays or any other time for that matter, a respite stay for the person you care for may be the answer.

Respite provides short-term or temporary care and is typically available at most personal care homes or assisted living facilities. As a respite your loved one can receive the same services a permanent resident would, like meals, activities, medication monitoring, and assistance with activities of daily living. You can arrange for the individual to stay for two to four weeks. Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village offers respite provides a safe, secure, and nurturing place for them to spend while you are out of town. Holiday activities and cooking, plus special events like Christmas concerts and celebrations make the time even more enjoyable. Respite can also include a combination of overnights in personal care, adult day services and or home care. There are many different options to consider.

Additional holiday caregiving tips

Senior Caregiving Help During the HolidaysUnlike Santa Claus, we do not have magical powers. You cannot be in multiple places in a flash. Ask for help from family and friends and learn how to delegate tasks. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Although it may be a hard choice, you may want to re-evaluate old traditions and family rituals that involve lots of travel or preparation time. Prioritize the things that matter most. You can’t be all things to all people and don’t feeling guilty about the things you cannot change. Schedule time to do the things that you like to do around holidays. You deserve to enjoy the holidays too. Set aside time to relax and talk to your loved one about the holidays and really listen to as they reminisce.

For additional information about the many options available to make the holidays more manageable please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching Office at 717.591.7225 or online at coach@messiahlifeways.org.

Adapted and revised from Nov. 24, 2015 version

Making Home Care More Affordable

Non-medical home care services are a great way to help aging loved ones or those with a disability live more independently and safely in their own home. It also gives primary caregivers a break from providing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing, as well as chores like cooking and housekeeping. For many individuals who do not have family close by or have a strong support system, home care can become their primary care giving source. However, these services can be cost-prohibitive for many and are not covered under health insurance, except for short periods of time if someone is receiving home healthcare or hospice services. But again, this coverage is very limited. Thus, paying out-of-pocket is typically how you receive these types of non-medical services.

The national hourly median rate for home care is approximately $20/hour¹. Do the math and you can quickly see how expensive it can get on a monthly basis. For some, these costs can be handled and is a fair price to pay to avoid moving to a personal care home or nursing home. But, for many more, they must limit its use or simply go without it, which lays the burden of care giving directly on family and friends.

State & County Funding

Fortunately there is some financial assistance available to those who qualify. State and county funding vary from state to state. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program offer coverage to help pay or offset costs of a variety of services and goods including services like non-medical home care and other services to help older Pennsylvanians age in place. Each of these programs has its own non-financial and financial medical assistance eligibility requirements (click here for details).

These programs include (click here):

 Veteran Administration Funding

Another form of financial assistance to cover the costs of home care and facility based care, which for many years went highly unpublicized, is the VA’s Aid & Attendance and Housebound Pension (click here). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs it offers:

“Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to a monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to pension.

 Since Aid and Attendance and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.”

Eligibility for this program is based on need, finances and military service requirements. Contact your local Pension Management Center (click here) to find out more about this pension program. You can also connect with your local VA representative by contacting your local county Area Agency on Aging.

Grant Funding

 Sometimes if you search hard enough you might discover a grant program that will help pay for a service like home care. One such program is that of the Cheryl Kay Foundation (CKF), whose mission is to improve the quality of living and independence for women battling breast cancer and senior citizens in financial need. The Cheryl Kay Foundation is a Mechanicsburg, PA-based family organization dedicated to affordable, dignified, and accessible home care services. They offer $1,000 grants to help offset the cost of care for qualified individuals. CKF eligibility requirements include any woman undergoing breast cancer treatment or individuals 79 years of age or older, who live alone or with a spouse, and whose monthly income is between $2,022 and a maximum of $3,635, aimed at helping those who do not financially qualify for the Aging Waiver mentioned earlier in the article.

CKF was founded in 2013 by the family of Cheryl Kay Stawovy, who passed away after battling breast cancer. The foundation seeks to honor Cheryl’s life and model the spirit of neighbor helping neighbor. They work with a limited number of non-profit home care providers to serve those in need, and Messiah Lifeways At Home (MLAH) is one of only two not-for-profit home care providers in Cumberland County, PA. The grant can allow clients to hire Messiah Lifeways At Home as an extra set of hands during the treatment and recovery phase of breast cancer or to eligible seniors to receive the assistance they need. These one-time grants can cover approximately 50 hours of care for people who otherwise might not be able to afford it. To learn more, please visit CherylKayFoundation.org.

Lastly, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) created a great website – BenefitsCheckUp.org. This free site provides an easy way to find a wide range of benefits, especially for older adults. It’s a very simple site that allows you to search for programs and services to help pay for benefits you or a loved one may be entitled to. Often people had no idea they were eligible for assistance or didn’t realize the aid even existed. Knowing is definitely half the battle.

This article is full of links that will take you directly to the program sites mentioned. If you need more assistance or have additional questions regarding home care services, please call Messiah Lifeways At Home at 717.790-8209 or visit MessiahLifeways.org/AtHome.

 

Home Care: A Cornerstone to Aging in Place

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month all month long, and Home Care Aide Week, which runs from November 13-19, 2016. It is a time to honor the care giving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Caring in Action.”

November is Homecare MonthHome care lies at the core of helping aging and disabled Americans stay in their home for longer periods of time. It can potentially lessen the amount of time someone may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Of course there are many other resources to help people “age in place or community.” Other options include home health care, which provides short-term medical care into the home, adult day programs, respite care, technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment. Home care services combined with one or several of these other home-based resources can create a workable blueprint to help someone age in place.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care
There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 76 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community support services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 76 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some [troubling] data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches
Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care,  non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need along with the absence of consistent familial support continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family and are poised to play a key role at the center of caregiving in our country.


To learn more, go to MessiahLifeways.org/AtHome or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2016
by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP
National Home Care Month

Celebrating National Home Care Month

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month and recognizes it as a time to honor the caregiving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Home Care Delivers Freedom.”

Home care truly does deliver freedom and is at the center of helping aging and disabled Americans preserve their health, independence, and self-determination in the comfort of their own home. Furthermore, home care bolstered by one or more other home-based services or resources can create a workable blueprint to help individuals “age in place” and potentially lessen the amount of time one may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Other community-based resources include home health care, which provides short-term medical care in the home, adult day programs, respite care, care based technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care

There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 78 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community-based services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 78 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever-increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some disturbing data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches

Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care, non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need, along with the absence of consistent familial support, continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family. They’re a large part of why home care is poised to play a key role as the center of health care in our country.


To learn more about Messiah Lifeways At Home go to messiahlifeways.org/AtHome or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2015 by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP

 

 

What Is Aging in Place?


What exactly does it mean to “Age in Place”? Ideally, aging in place is leading a healthy and engaging life in your own “home” for as long as one chooses. And “home” should be considered a fluid term. But, if we delve deeper, we’ll discover its meaning becomes situational, conditional, and distinct to each person facing difficult life choices as they grow older and or more dependent on others.

Aging in place has become a broad term bandied about in the senior and long-term care industries for many years. At work, I use the term several times a day and provide guidance to older adults and their families on how to “age in place.” However, for those who have little or no exposure to an aging or disabled loved one struggling to live independently or safely at home, it may be an unfamiliar concept.

One way to help define aging in place, or muddy the waters, depending on how you look at it, is to dispel what it is not:

•It’s not exclusively defined by age. When you retire at 65 you’re not suddenly aging in place. Furthermore, is a healthy 81 year old still working full-time and leading a very active lifestyle aging in place? I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is. Plus, if I claimed he was, he might respectfully disagree, since I’m referring to my father-in-law. Conversely, we could reference a 45 year old female with a traumatic brain injury in which the family is doing everything they can to keep her at home as she becomes more dependent each passing year.

•It also is not defined necessarily by where you live. Someone residing in a place other than their house, such as in a retirement or 55+ community, a personal care home or assisted living, has the opportunity to age in place. Therefore, you can age in place in multiple stages and locations too.

Thoroughly confused yet? Don’t be. You can boil the term down to whether a person has a fundamental deficit or inherent need, that without help may not be able to live independently or safely. These deficits can be quite broad. It could be that because of aging, impairment or disability that person needs some home modifications: a ramp into the house, a bedroom on the first floor, or a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub. A deficit may also be due to a loss, such as the loss of driving privileges or loss of physical or mental capacities. Aging in place manifests itself if you now need assistance coming to your current living situation for the safety, welfare or maintenance of you or your household.

Another way to understand aging in place is to talk about its primary alternative. Typically, this is choosing to move to a retirement community or care facility because it could make life easier or more enjoyable or safer than living in a private residence. Statistically, if we examine the choice of aging in place versus making a move among older adults, the percentage of those who move into a facility for care is less than 15%. Thus, the majority of older adults will be living at home and opt to age in place.

There are a multitude of different services and resources that can help people stay at home and age in place. Family or hired caregivers and/or professional home care are keys to aging in place. Other options include: adult day programs, home modification, and technology such as emergency call systems, telemedicine and even the use of web cams. Additionally, home health care and hospice services, durable medical equipment, outpatient therapy and diagnostic programs bolster the effort of people living safely and healthy at home. Wellness programs, volunteering, community membership groups like Messiah Lifeways Connections, senior centers, and transportation services can help round out a healthy and engaging life in the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about aging in place options available through Messiah Lifeways Community Support Services, call 717.790.8209 or go to MessiahLifeways.org/community-support.

R-E-S-P-I-T-E: Find Out What it Means to Me

If you’d now like to get Aretha Franklin’s voice out of your head, follow me toward a completely different direction or at least to a circuitous segue for today’s blog. We’re talking about r-e-s-p-i-t-e and what it can mean to you – the caregiver, the ever-loving and devoted spouse or family member, dedicated and entrusted to the care of an aging parent or dependent loved one.

First, what does respite mean? Primarily it refers to taking or getting a break from a difficult or arduous ongoing task. And for some the “task of caregiving” can often lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, and in some cases caregiver burnout. So getting a break or respite is so important for caregivers. Many spouses and adult children have made the promise to take care of their husband or wife or parent at home indefinitely. But as valiant as that promise is, over a few years, months or even weeks, caregiving can take its toll on your health, along with your mental and emotional well-being. Fortunately, respite can be an extremely helpful way to stave off burnout and revitalize or prolong a person’s ability to take care someone that needs the help. It’s a tool that all caregivers should use or at least explore.

For those familiar with the term, the most prevalent form of respite care is having your loved one stay at a personal care home or an assisted living residence for a week or two, while you take a well-deserved vacation or an out of town business trip. Messiah Village offers such a program, and it’s a great option in the battle against burnout. However, there are two other options that can also help counterbalance the stress and impact that being a caregiver entails. Those options include non-medical home care and adult day programs. These services are not as closely associated with respite compared to overnight respite care programs, but they are without a doubt as vital, valuable and many times less expensive than respite in a facility.

Adult Day programs offer flexibility for caregivers who may still work or also have young children to care for at home. Fortunately the aging loved one, who cannot stay home alone, can come to an adult day program for up to 8 hours, while the caregiver is out of the house. At the end of the day the most satisfying fact is that the person in need has received the care, attention and stimulation they need during the day, but return home come evening time. Equally satisfying is that the caregiver gets the respite time they need or desire. Most programs, such as our very own Messiah Lifeways Adult Day program, offer full day and half day programs as well one day or multiple day options. It’s also one of the most affordable types of care out there, with the national average of $70/day and $60/day in Pennsylvania¹ for 8 hours of care.

Another form of respite is non-medical home care. Just as Adult Day can break up the day or supplement the duties of the primary caregiver, home care does the same and can be used in multiple ways and time frames. Whether it’s needed several hours here or there, at bedtime or bath time, in the middle of the night or on weekends, home care can offset the daily tasks and challenges a caregiver faces each day. Providers like Messiah Lifeways At Home can also take the burden out of responsibilities like cooking, housekeeping, and grocery shopping for an aging parent, especially for those “sandwiched” between taking care of mom and taking care of their kids. Though more expensive on a hour by hour basis than adult day, home care in Pennsylvania averages a doable rate of $21/hour, which also happens to be the national average².

The great thing about respite is that it’s not necessarily there to replace you as the caregiver, but rather to supplement your hard work and efforts and to help keep you from running yourself ragged.

And lastly don’t forget to sing…

R-E-S-P-I-T-E
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB, Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)

To learn more about respite options available through Messiah Lifeways, call 717.790.8209. Also if you’d like to learn more about reducing caregiver burnout, join us for the next Coaching Workshop entitled “Caregiver Solutions” scheduled for Wednesday, September 18, 2013. To learn more or to RSVP, please call 717.591-7225 or online at messiahlifeways.org/events.

¹&² The 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs- November 2012