Care When You Need It Thu, 22 Jun 2017 21:36:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 Nursing home residents commonly abused by neighbors Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:49:48 +0000
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Cornell Chronicle

Cornell Chronicle
June 23, 2016

Nursing home residents commonly abused by neighbors

By Heather Lindsey

Karl Pillemer, Hazel E. Reed Professor, Human Development; Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach, College of Human Ecology; PI, TRIPLL, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.




Twenty percent of people living in nursing homes are abused by other residents, according to a study by researchers in the College of Human Ecology and Weill Cornell Medicine.

“We were very surprised by the prevalence of aggression,” said senior author Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Human Development and professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, who published the findings June 13 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “We thought it would be common, but we did not anticipate that 1 in 5 people would be involved in a resident-to-resident incident.”

In addition to the physical injuries that can result from these abusive incidents, “the emotional toll that can result from being victimized incessantly can be overwhelming,” said lead author Dr. Mark Lachs, co-chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and the Irene F. and I. Roy Psaty Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The Cornell researchers and colleagues at the Research Division of Hebrew Home at Riverdale evaluated 2,011 residents in 10 nursing home facilities during a one-month period. Of those individuals, 407, or 20.2 percent, had experienced a least one resident-to-resident incident of mistreatment.

Nine percent of victims experienced verbal abuse. Five percent encountered physical abuse, and less than 1 percent sexual abuse. Another 5 percent suffered “other” types of abuse, such as invasion of privacy and menacing gestures.

The most common types of verbal aggression were screaming at another resident and using foul language. Physical aggression most often included hitting and pushing. Going into another resident’s room without permission and taking or touching another person’s property were common examples of invasion of privacy.

A major risk factor for aggression was cognitive impairment, said Pillemer, who is also director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell. “You have people who would otherwise not be violent but who have serious aggressive episodes,” he said.

People who were younger and more physically active, meaning they were able to wander into other residents’ rooms, were more likely to be involved in an abusive incident, he said.

Crowding in common spaces such as hallways and lounges also increased risk. Conflict occurred more frequently in the winter months, presumably when patients had limited space to interact indoors, and in nursing homes with lower staffing levels, said Lachs, who is also professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The first steps toward addressing the problem are improving staff awareness and developing clear protocols for dealing with aggression among residents, Pillemer said. Individualized care is also important. Some people who are at greater risk of becoming aggressors may need more supervision than others.

One obstacle to addressing this form of aggression is that regulatory agencies and media have traditionally focused on physical abuse of residents by staff.

“This certainly occurs, and we should have zero tolerance for it,” Lachs said. “But this study suggests that one is much more likely to experience physical or verbal harm from another resident than from a staff member.”

Heather Lindsey is a freelance writer for Weill Cornell Medicine.

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Compass Care, LLC has been selected for the 2016 Best of Stamford Award in the Healthcare category by the Stamford Award Program. Fri, 01 Apr 2016 03:53:07 +0000
-> Continue reading Compass Care, LLC has been selected for the 2016 Best of Stamford Award in the Healthcare category by the Stamford Award Program.]]>
Press Release


Compass Care, LLC Receives 2016 Best of Stamford Award

Stamford Award Program Honors the Achievement

STAMFORD March 25, 2016 — Compass Care, LLC has been selected for the 2016 Best of Stamford Award in the Healthcare category by the Stamford Award Program.

Each year, the Stamford Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Stamford area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Stamford Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Stamford Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Stamford Award Program

The Stamford Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Stamford area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Stamford Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Stamford Award Program

Stamford Award Program


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Caring for children, aging parents puts squeeze on workers Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:13:18 +0000
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Caring for children, aging parents puts squeeze on workers

The so-called ‘sandwich generation’ phenomenon ensnares many Maine adults – particularly women – and profoundly affects their time and finances.

But like thousands of working adults in Maine, Chaples cannot afford to drop everything and become a full-time caretaker to an aging or seriously ill parent. She is a single mom raising a 4-year-old son, and she has a career as a teacher. The pressure on working adults to meet daily job and family responsibilities can feel overwhelming when a parent becomes gravely ill.

“It’s like being at the bottom of the mountain waiting for the avalanche to come, not being able to move,” said Chaples, who lives in Bangor.

SarahJoy Chaple receives help from her son Brian as she makes a snack for him after her workday. Kevin Bennett Photo

SarahJoy Chaple receives help from her son Brian as she makes a snack for him after her workday. Kevin Bennett Photo

The number of working adults in Maine who are caring for both children and parents is on the rise, according to professionals who work on aging and women’s issues. They have dubbed those caught between dependent children and parents “the sandwich generation.”

There are no definitive, Maine-based data on how many people this phenomenon affects, but organizations that offer resources for working families say it’s real. Reasons for the increase in sandwich generation members include the growing senior population, the decision by many adults to wait until their 30s or 40s to have children, and the exorbitant cost of professional 24-hour care.

The trend is especially challenging for women, who are twice as likely as men to become the designated caretaker for an aging or ill parent.

“This is an issue that comes up for the women that we serve, and one that many of our staff and colleagues are facing – whether they are working or managing their own business,” said Gilda Nardone, executive director of New Ventures Maine, a nonprofit organization based in Augusta that focuses on business and career development.

For Colleen McCracken, it started with a visit to see her 73-year-old mother in Florida.

McCracken, CEO of Planet Dog in Westbrook, said a friend of her mom’s had called with some disturbing news. She had been acting confused and forgetful, even showing up at other people’s houses thinking they were her own. McCracken suspected that her mom had developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Westbrook resident Colleen McCracken, who was caring for her mother and has children, is part of the "sandwich generation." Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Westbrook resident Colleen McCracken, who was caring for her mother and has children, is part of the “sandwich generation.” Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

After consulting with doctors, McCracken decided to bring her mother to Maine to live with her. But like most working adults, McCracken could not be there to watch and protect her mother 24 hours a day.

One night, her mom fell down the stairs. She recovered from the fall, but the accident forced McCracken to realize that an assisted living situation would be better for her mom.

Even with her mother in a safe place, McCracken said it can be difficult to balance her caretaker duties with other family and work responsibilities.

“I would say the hardest part is the time,” McCracken said. “Where do you find the time?”


In addition to being a deeply personal phenomenon, the sandwich generation trend is also an economic one, said Rebecca Ness, owner of Senior Planning Advisors and a board member of the Alzheimer’s Association Maine Chapter.

Ness, McCracken and other women business leaders spoke about the challenges of the sandwich generation at a February seminar in Falmouth organized by Women in Family Business, part of the Institute for Family-Owned Business.

In Maine, which has nearly 20 percent more baby boomers than the national average, about 50 more people turn 65 each day.

Given the high cost of 24-hour professional care in Maine, most seniors who need care are attended to by family members. According to the 2010 census, 27.1 percent of Maine households contain at least one senior, compared with 24.9 percent nationally.

“In the Greater Portland area, the average cost for assisted living is over $66,000 a year,” Ness said. “Medicare does not cover long-term care services. Medicare does not cover assisted living.”

The impact of senior care on employees and their employers is staggering, according to Ness. Nationally, 61 percent of those caring for parents are employed, she said, and 68 percent of those workers say they’ve had to make adjustments to their work schedule. A 2010 MetLife study of the sandwich generation pegs the value of lost productivity in the workplace at $33 billion.

According to the San Francisco-based Family Caregiver Alliance, a national study of working women caregivers in 1999 by MetLife Mature Market Institute, National Alliance for Caregiving and the National Center on Women and Aging found that 33 percent had to decrease their work hours, 29 percent passed up promotions, assignments or training opportunities, 22 percent took a leave of absence, 20 percent switched from full-time to part-time work, and 16 percent simply quit their jobs.
Portland resident Heidi Farber said that since her 88-year-old father suffered a stroke in 2015, she has traveled to visit her parents in Indianapolis about 15 times. Her mother, who is 85, has debilitating and painful osteoporosis.

Heidi Farber and her daughter Carly, 18, left, talk to Maria Jesus, 15, a student from Chile whom they are hosting in their Portland home. (Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)

Heidi Farber and her daughter Carly, 18, left, talk to Maria Jesus, 15, a student from Chile whom they are hosting in their Portland home. (Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)

Farber, who works for Hospice of Southern Maine as a fundraiser and events manager, said she spends two to three hours a day taking care of various tasks for her parents such as paying bills, making calls on their behalf and coordinating their 24-hour professional home care.

“I call it my other job,” she said. Farber also has an 18-year-old daughter, and the family is hosting two exchange students, one from China and the other from Chile. “I would say I’m very tired, and it presses upon every intersection of my life.”

Sandy Hendrickson, 85, and Tom Hendrickson, 88, are the parents of Portland resident Heidi Farber. The couple lives in Indianapolis, and over the past year they have relied heavily on Heidi and her siblings to help them cope with serious health problems. Sandy has debilitating osteoporosis, and Tom suffered a stroke in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Farber)

Sandy Hendrickson, 85, and Tom Hendrickson, 88, are the parents of Portland resident Heidi Farber. The couple lives in Indianapolis, and over the past year they have relied heavily on Heidi and her siblings to help them cope with serious health problems. Sandy has debilitating osteoporosis, and Tom suffered a stroke in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Farber)


Being a member of the sandwich generation can devastate the caretaker’s personal finances, said Karen Milliken, vice president and portfolio manager at the investment firm R.M. Davis Inc. in Portland. She said the key to avoiding disaster is to begin a financial dialogue with aging parents long before a potential crisis hits.

Many children of dependent parents know little about the parent’s financial situation and feel uncomfortable asking, Milliken said. They don’t understand the costs of long-term care, the varying levels of care, or the types of insurance coverage available for such care.

In some cases, caregivers sacrifice their own financial future for the sake of their parents’ health, Milliken said, one of the cardinal sins of personal finance.

“Don’t raid your retirement savings to pay for your child’s education or your parents’ health care,” she said.

Some states have begun to tackle the sandwich generation problem at the policy level, said Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby and Maine Women’s Policy Center in Augusta.

New Jersey, Rhode Island and California all have created emergency funds from a portion of payroll taxes that can be used to supplement long-term caregivers’ lost wages, Townsend said. Maine law requires employers to let workers take a leave of absence for long-term care, but it doesn’t require them to pay workers anything while they are on leave.

“One of the most important things we can do is adopt a system of paid family leave,” she said. “It’s overwhelmingly women who step out of the workforce to care for children as well as elderly parents. They pay a significant financial penalty for this.”

Farber noted that there has been a significant upside to taking on the role of caretaker to her parents. It has brought her closer to them, and she also sees it as an opportunity to show them her gratitude for all of the things they have done for her over the years. Farber added that her husband, daughter, brother, sister and colleagues at work have been very supportive and helpful.

“It has been very meaningful for me, and I feel privileged to be making a difference,” she said.

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Distinguished Speaker Series Continues with Second Speaker on Successful Healthy Aging & Caregiving Tue, 22 Mar 2016 16:19:03 +0000
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Distinguished Speaker Series Continues with Second Speaker on Successful Healthy Aging & Caregiving

Dr. Karl Pillemer set to speak on April 21st at The Greenwich Library on “Living and Loving: Advice from the Oldest (and Wisest) Americans”

March 17, 2016 10:17 AM Eastern Daylight Time
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Commission on Aging, The Greenwich Library, At Home in Greenwich and Compass Care, LLC continue their sponsorship of the Distinguished Speaker Series on Successful Healthy Aging & Caregiving. The second talk, “Living and Loving: Advice from the Oldest (and Wisest) Americans,” will be held this April 21st at The Greenwich Library at 7:00 pm presented by Karl A. Pillemer. Dr. Pillemer is a Professor of Human Development at Cornell University and Professor of Gerontology at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He is the founder and director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging, a center that uses research to solve the practical problems of older people. An internationally renowned gerontologist, his research examines how people develop and change throughout their lives. He has authored five books, over 100 scientific publications, and speaks throughout the world on aging-related issues.

Successful Healthy Aging & Caregiving Dr. Pillemer April 21st The Greenwich Library on “Living and Loving"

In a recent set of studies, Dr. Pillemer set out to learn what older people know about life that the rest of us don't.
This project led to the book: 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. His second book is entitled
30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage. Dr. Pillemer speaks nationally and
internationally on the life-changing potential of advice from elders, and his work has received extensive media attention,
including profiles on the PBS NewsHour, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, and many more.

Registration is recommended, but is not required (

Our third Distinguished Speaker Series talk is set for the fall with the date still to be determined. The subject will be on Caregiving and our distinguished speaker will be Paula Span, writer for the New York Times and professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

As always, attendance at all talks in the Distinguished Speaker Series is free of any charge.


About Us

The Commission on Aging is the Town agency responsible for the needs of Greenwich’s older residents. The Commission plans and coordinates services to meet the needs of older adults and also advocates for elder issues.
(203) 862-6710

The Greenwich Library’s mission is to provide exceptional resources, programs and services that promote the joy of lifelong learning and to offer a welcoming place for people to gather and share experiences.
(203) 622-7900

At Home in Greenwich Inc. provides Greenwich residents, 50 years and older, professional guidance to meet life’s challenges and live confidently in their own homes as they grow older. Through trusted personal assistance, vetted support services, social connections, events and information, help is just a phone call away.
(203) 422-2342

Compass Care, LLC is a concierge care management and private duty home care company. Founded by a renowned geriatrician and managed by gerontologists, Compass Care offers the highest quality care planning and home health care services for older adults.
(855) 535-2500

Compass Care, LLC
Kayce Lawrence, 917-633-6162


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People in their nineties reveal their secrets to aging well – Business Insider Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:08:29 +0000
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There are many reasons why some people live long healthy lives while others don’t, but one of them is undoubtedly genes.

People in their nineties reveal their secrets to aging well

aging elderly nutrition wellnessThe ConversationNever too old.

There are many reasons why some people live long healthy lives while others don’t, but one of them is undoubtedly genes.

That doesn’t mean we should be negative about our chances of ageing in good health.

Although our genes are handed down from our parents, the hand that we are dealt seems to be influenced by our lifestyle, too.

Food, physical activity and stress can change how genes function by adding “chemical tags” that act as on/off or dimmer switches, influencing our health and lifespan. The study of this process is known as epigenetics.

In a series of research studies with nonagenarians who were in robust health (the BELFAST studies), we found that participants carried fewer of the genes that are implicated in cardiovascular disease and showed some gene types which may have helped boost their immunity.

In the most recent BELFAST nonagenarians’ study, we built on these findings and asked active nonagenarians why they thought they had lived for so long and in such good health.

Family history and personal storiesare powerful tools when used in parallel with genomic analyses. They can help us to understand how our beliefs, behaviour and lifestyle choices subtly fine-tune how our genes function in daily life.

By talking to nonagenarians about their lives, we identified how important they considered their genes to be, but they also told us about several other factors that they thought supported their long and healthy lives.

Genes and good health

Nonagenarian siblings recognised genes as important. Ellie, 99, said: “I suppose it was the family I was born into – my mother’s female relatives all seemed to live into their 90s. I can remember cousins and aunts, all were over 90.”

She added: “The men didn’t live so long.”

In fact, Ellie had observed something scientists still don’t understand: why women live longer than men. Evidence suggests that it may relate to male hormones in the womb leading to increased age-related disease.

Train body and mind

All of the people in our study spoke about the importance of keeping mentally and physically active. Robert, a shopkeeper, said: “Hard work all my life. I think that is the secret.”

Norman, 95, one of two nonagenarian brothers, both railwaymen, said: “I left school at 16 and, yes, we had to go to work then. It wasn’t like today when you can keep your education going until you are 23 or 24.” His brother, Joyce, 96, agreed: “Yes we worked hard. There is no doubt about it.”

Samuel, 95, but “going on 25”, keeps mentally busy and told us that he had just finished writing his tenth book.

elderly agingZina SeletskayaSocialising and exercising your brain – both important in ageing well.

The health benefits of physical activity are hard to ignore. Regular exercise changes our epigenome, activating genes that improve muscle function. Exercise not only protects our muscles but also our brains with a possible dose-related effect – the more we do, the greater the effect. Exercise is good for everyone and it’s never too late to start.

Eat well

Many of the study participants mentioned the importance of food in ageing well. Norman said: “I have always led a quiet life. Didn’t smoke or drink to any extent and was always fed on good solid food. No junk food.” His brother, Joyce, added: “We always had sensible food. Never smoked, except for a couple of months.”

Eileen, 92, gave details of “good food, good healthy meals. Mama would have a big pot of broth for us.”

There is truth in the saying: you are what you eat. Scientists have provided evidence that fruit and vegetables may dampen cancer-causing genes, or may protect us from cancer by altering epigenetic markers.

Few participants smoked, avoiding the known epigenetic effects of cigarette smoke including lung damage, increased risk of dementia and cancer.

Be positive, stay social

Many of the participants described “being happy”, “always cheerful”, “never melancholy” and being content with a “rich life” and family relationships. Typical examples from siblings include Samuel, 95, who said he is “interested in people, interested in life”. His sister Ethel, 93, added: “[I am] interested in things, and everything that’s going on.” Whilst Sarah, 95, one of two sisters, told us: “Oh, I am always happy” and her sister Mariah, 94, said: “I have just a happy disposition”.

The ability or willingness to cope with difficulties was another common attitude we observed. As Eileen, 96, told us: “[I] just take things as they come.”

Successful ageing is considered to be more than the absence of disease and being able to live independently but involves being socially active. Friends and family are important factors in ageing well, making for good mental health, reduced risk of premature death and can help people deal with stressful events in their lives.

The epigenetic modification of our genes – and the life stories of healthy nonagenarians – offer explanations about how diet, physical activity, stress and exposure to toxins and infections can subtly alter our genes and our predisposition to disease.

The key to ageing well may not depend on choosing our parents wisely (even if we could), but making good lifestyle choices.

Source: People in their nineties reveal their secrets to aging well – Business Insider

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Scientists make significant anti-aging breakthrough Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:07:13 +0000
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A breakthrough in understanding human skin cells offers a pathway for new anti-ageing treatments.

Scientists make significant anti-aging breakthrough

February 25, 2016
old person
Credit: Peter Griffin/public domain

A breakthrough in understanding human skin cells offers a pathway for new anti-ageing treatments.

For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University, UK, have identified that the activity of a key metabolic enzyme found in the batteries of cells declines with age.

A study, published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, has found that the activity of mitochondrial complex II significantly decreases in older .

This discovery brings experts a step closer to developing powerful anti-ageing treatments and cosmetic products which may be tailored to counteract the decline in the enzyme’s activity levels.

Findings may also lead to a greater understanding of how other organs in the body age, which could pave the way for drug developments in a number of age-related diseases, including cancer.

Mark Birch-Machin, Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University, led the pioneering study with Dr Amy Bowman from his research group.

Professor Birch-Machin said: “As our bodies age we see that the batteries in our cells run down, known as decreased bio-energy, and increase.

“This process is easily seen in our skin as increased fine lines, wrinkles and sagging appears. You know the story, or at least your mirror does first thing in the morning!

“Our study shows, for the first time, in human skin that with increasing age there is a specific decrease in the activity of a key metabolic enzyme found in the batteries of the .

“This enzyme is the hinge between the two important ways of making energy in our cells and a decrease in its activity contributes to decreased bio-energy in ageing skin.

“Our research means that we now have a specific biomarker, or a target, for developing and screening anti-ageing treatments and cosmetic creams that may counter this decline in bio-energy.

“There is now a possibility of finding anti-ageing treatments which can be tailored to differently aged and differently pigmented skin, and with the additional possibility to address the ageing process elsewhere in our bodies.”

Complex II activity was measured in 27 donors, from aged six to 72 years. Samples were taken from a sun-protected area of skin to determine if there was a difference in activity with increasing age.

Techniques were used to measure the activities of the key enzymes within mitochondria that are involved in producing the skin cell’s energy, a type of mitochondrial gym or skin physical. This was applied to cells derived from the upper (epidermis) and lower (dermis) levels of skin.

It was found that complex II activity significantly declined with age, per unit of mitochondria, in the cells derived from the lower rather than the upper levels, an observation not previously reported for human skin.

The scientists found that the reason for this is the amount of enzyme protein was decreased and furthermore this decrease was only observed in those cells that had stopped proliferating.

Further studies will now be required to fully understand the functional consequences in skin and other tissues, and to establish methods to assess anti-ageing strategies in human skin.

Dr Bowman, Research Associate at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine, said: “Newcastle University is pioneering research into ageing as it has long been thought that mitochondria play an important role in the , however the exact role has remained unclear.

“Our work brings us one step closer to understanding how these vital cell structures may be contributing to human ageing, with the hope of eventually specifically targeting areas of the mitochondria in an attempt to counteract the signs of ageing.”

A recent study carried out in mice showed that complex II activity is lower in the skin of naturally aged older mice compared to younger mice.

Explore further: Skin’s own cells offer hope for new ways to repair wounds, reduce impact of aging on the skin

More information: Amy Bowman et al. Age-Dependent Decrease of Mitochondrial Complex II Activity in Human Skin Fibroblasts, Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.01.017

Source: Scientists make significant anti-aging breakthrough

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Shortage of caregivers hits home as families scramble to find help – Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:05:23 +0000
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For one mother, a hospital bed was the only choice.

Shortage of caregivers hits home as families scramble to find help

For one mother, a hospital bed was the only choice.

An acute and worsening shortage of home care workers across much of Minnesota has reached a crisis point, threatening patient safety and forcing families into desperate measures to care for their loved ones.

As hiring accelerates in a tightening job market, thousands of openings for $10-an-hour caregiving jobs are going unfilled. The vacancy rate for personal care aides in rural Minnesota recently hit 14 percent — highest in at least 15 years, according to state workforce data.

Unable to find and retain caregivers, many Minnesotans are turning to an informal network of friends and relatives to help care for aging or disabled family members. Some are quitting their jobs and even cashing out their retirement accounts to provide essential care, while home care agencies find themselves relying on less-experienced caregivers with little or no training, agency executives said.

“These are desperate times,” said Karen Holt, social worker at New Directions Inc., a home care agency in White Bear Lake. “Sometimes, you end up reusing the same staff over and over, and people are getting burned out. … It’s putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

For Heather Sawyer of Belle Plaine, the shortage hit home last fall, when her home care agency calmly informed her one afternoon that it no longer had enough nurses to provide care for her daughter Morgan, 10, who requires round-the-clock assistance for a range of conditions, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Suddenly, Sawyer was scrambling to fill two 12-hour nursing shifts a day, seven days a week.

A single mother, Sawyer called nearly two dozen agencies but was unable to fill the empty shifts before her daughter’s care was officially terminated. So, in late October, she wheeled Morgan into the acute care unit of Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, even though she was not sick. The girl would spend the next 21 days confined to a hospital bed, largely separated from her family, while her mother searched for caregivers.

The official reason for Morgan’s hospital stay, listed in her discharge papers: “Home Care Failure.”

“It broke my heart placing [Morgan] in a hospital when she wasn’t even sick,” Sawyer, 34, said as she bathed her daughter. “But I had no other choice. My daughter’s safety comes first.”

For some families, recruiting and retaining caregivers has become such a hassle that they provide the care themselves. Katie Paulson of Hanover said she has taken a temporary leave of absence from her $90,000-a-year sales job because she can’t find a regular nurse for her 3-year-old son, Von, who has a life-threatening adrenal disease and heart condition that require constant monitoring. Von’s last nurse quit just before Christmas for a better-paying job at a hospital, Paulson said.

To make ends meet while she’s at home, Paulson is considering whether to borrow money from her family or cash out her 401(k) retirement account. “The system is failing us,” she said. “You almost feel like you have no choice but to have people in your house that you don’t even like because there’s such a severe shortage.”

Labor-market analysts blame the shortage on the tight job market and historically low wages in the home care sector. Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 3.5 percent is at its lowest level since 2001, with many hospitals and nursing homes raising wages to fill vacant positions. The gap in pay between home and hospital-based care has widened considerably; registered nurses now make three times more per hour than home care aides, according to state workforce data.

Government programs are partly to blame. Home care agencies that participate in the state-funded personal care assistance program are reimbursed $17.01 for every hour of care, which reflects a 5 percent increase from 2014 but which still places a low ceiling on the wage agencies can pay their workers.

Posting fliers at the U

To compete, home care agencies from Faribault to Duluth are dangling special incentives such as $1,200 retention bonuses and free meals and transportation. Yet the new perks have not been enough to outweigh the hardships of a profession that can impose grueling demands, from suctioning tracheostomies and dressing wounds to lifting heavy patients.

“Employers are having a very hard time selling these positions,” said Oriane Casale, a state labor market analyst. “The working conditions can be very poor and the pay is low.”

Bearing the greatest brunt of the shortage are people with disabilities like Linda Wolford, 53, of Roseville. Despite having a spinal muscular condition that severely limits her mobility, Wolford still must carve out several hours a week to train and recruit the caregivers who now rotate through her home. “It’s like running a business,” said Wolford, a manager in the University of Minnesota’s disability resources center.

A few years ago, when the postrecession job market was still weak, Wolford received a dozen or more responses for every posting on sites like Now, Wolford said she’s lucky to get a single response from a posting. Many who do call lose interest once they discover that the job requires heavy lifting, she said.

Lately Wolford has begun pinning fluorescent-pink “PCA wanted” fliers near elevators and student areas around the U.

“I’ve had caregivers since I was 18 years old, and it’s never been this hard to recruit help,” Wolford said one day last week as she sped through an underground campus tunnel with a pile of fliers. “People are cherry picking. You tell them about your needs and they say, ‘I don’t think I can do that.’ ”

But with no signs of the shortage abating, home care agencies can afford to be selective. Andrea Bejarano-Robinson, 35, who has mild cerebral palsy, said an agency recently turned her away because she lives in a suburb, New Hope, and her house is not close enough to a bus stop.

“What exactly do they want me to do?” she asked. “I can’t pick up my house and move it to a different street.”

On a recent morning, Sawyer gently wiped a moist washcloth over the outstretched arms and legs of her daughter as a nurse adjusted the oxygen level on her ventilator. It would take two hours to wash, feed and clothe Morgan before a visit from a speech therapist. As the elaborate choreography unfolded, Morgan smiled and stretched out her arms in appreciation.

“People have told me, ‘Why don’t you just put your daughter in a group home,’ ” Sawyer said. “My response is, ‘No, I am never going to do that!’ There isn’t a home in the world that can give her the love that she gets right here.”

Source: Shortage of caregivers hits home as families scramble to find help –

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There is hope on horizon for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:04:17 +0000
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Alzheimer’s in Arizona: There is hope on the horizon for patients, caregivers

Alzheimer’s in Arizona: Hope for the…

Editor’s Note: This is the final of a five-part series looking at the effects of Alzheimer’s in Arizona. Read the other parts here.

PHOENIX -– Arizonans who are young and healthy might not see dementia or Alzheimer’s as their issue.

“I’m 20 years old,” Cody Kacerek said. The tennis coach in north Phoenix added Alzheimer’s meant old people to him.

It’s a fairly consistent answer among young adults. But economist Dennis Hoffman with Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business has a follow-up question:

“Well, how are your grandparents, parents, friends, relatives, co-workers going to be impacted by this devastating disease?”

As a state, the Arizona Alzheimer’s Task Force found caregivers lost $4.58 billion last year.

That’s just in wages forfeited by caregivers helping family members, friends or co-workers suffering with the disease.
Sixty-five percent of those people voluntarily helping others are women.

Now, imagine it’s an 85-year-old woman taking care of her 90-year-old husband.

She asks for anonymity, before revealing that in public her husband is, “a very social, loving person, stopping to talk with people.”

But when they get home, he “is really angry with himself and he’s angry with me because he is losing his memory and we can’t do anything about it.”

Amy Chengalaram, a professional caregiver and educator, said, “I think for our patients… it’s easy… to take out … on their caregiver … because they know that person is going to be there for them.”

She is working on the front lines of caregiving, helping families understand what they’re facing.

“For a lot of families I think it’s learning how to cope … not to fix … but learn how to live with it.”

The good news is Arizona leaders are working locally and nationally to empower families through education and programs.

For instance, U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is co-sponsor of the Hope Act for Alzheimer’s, which has strong bipartisan support. It would create a care-management planning session for all patients covered by Medicare.

“The planning session provides patients and their families with needed information about the disease, treatment options and available medical and community service,” Sinema said.

And, on the medical side of the fight, genomics professor Matt Huentelman at T-Gen in Phoenix is hopeful, “Because I think that, finally, we’re getting the chance to test the drugs that have failed in patients … but, might be really successful if they’re used earlier in the course of the disease.”

In the meantime, Dr. Maribeth Gallagher with Hospice of the Valley is empowering caregivers to cope.

As director of the dementia program, she leads caregivers through mindfulness classes.

She opens with a meditative chime to help caregivers find their center.

“There’s a tremendous amount of worrying that goes on and obviously that has an effect on their mind and their body. And so by coming back into this present moment, they can be grounded and present for what’s going on in front of them,” she said.

One caregiver who lost her husband to Alzheimer’s said, “We all need to reach out every day as much as possibly can to better their lives and enhance ours.”


Government leaders and the medical community have hope for the future of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.

Source: There is hope on horizon for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers

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CARE Act gives hand up to family caregivers | The Olympian Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:02:19 +0000
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CARE Act gives hand up to family caregivers

Family caregivers are the backbone of elder care in Washington state

The CARE Act would help by requiring caregivers to be looped in by hospitals, providers

AARP is backing the measure, saying polls show bipartisan support for it

Last Spring, Susan Day’s husband Edward spent more than a month in the hospital — half of which was spent in intensive care including five stressful days when he wasn’t expected to live. Thankfully he pulled through, but the struggle wasn’t over.

Source: CARE Act gives hand up to family caregivers | The Olympian

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Help Offered to Adult Children Becoming Caregivers – Atlanta Jewish Times Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:00:31 +0000
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Help Offered to Adult Children Becoming Caregivers

A recent AARP report states that 40 million people provide 37 billion hours of unpaid caregiving a year, or 80 percent of the long-term care in this country, but each of us does not have to reinvent this wheel. Weinstein Hospice created the “Kibud Av V’Eim: Navigating the Journey From Child to Caregiver” workshop to help adult children care for aging parents and to help people be creative, deliberate and realistic about their own aging and dying.

Social worker Jenifer Firestone, who is the hospice’s volunteer coordinator and describes her experience caring for 92- and 95-year-old parents for 4½ years as “the most heart-wrenching, anxiety-producing, costly, complicated and frustrating experience of my life,” provided answers to possible questions about the program, which is being offered in a two-session series at Congregation Or Hadashin March and Congregation Beth Jacob in May.

Q: What is the journey referred to in the workshop title?

Adult Children Offered Help to Become Caregivers 1
(Clockwise from bottom right) Doris and Alan Firestone, son-in-law Richard Swartz, and daughters Kathy Swartz and Jenifer Firestone head out to dinner.

A: Two journeys are taking place at the same time. The first journey is that of older people going from being active, independent and relatively healthy to being less active, having more health problems, and needing increasing assistance and support in daily life. The concurrent journey is for adult children having to provide care and assistance to the people who were their caregivers. Aging parents and children-turned-caregivers are often reluctant to find themselves on these journeys.

Q: Why “navigating”?

A: The journey is not straightforward or clear. There are many, often confusing options and decisions that have significant implications for care recipients and caregivers. Successful navigation requires forethought and familiarity with the possibilities.

Q: Why did Weinstein Hospice create this program?

A: As hospice and geriatric care professionals, we have accompanied hundreds of families as they struggle through these journeys. Aging and dying are difficult under the best of circumstances. These life challenges are exacerbated by denial, resistance, and a lack of emotional and logistical preparation. Our experience with aging and dying has made us aware of what so many people learn the hard way.

Q: What are the biggest challenges to families as aging occurs?

A: The first challenge is the resistance to recognizing the need for and accepting help. The rejection of walkers, electronic medication dispensers, the end of driving and private home care assistance leads to falls, medication errors, dehydration, muscle atrophy, poor nutrition and the increasing weakness that cuts away at people’s prized independence. These problems exacerbate the trauma and frustration of the adult children who are increasingly responsible for their parents.

The second challenge is the dearth of appropriate and affordable living options for aging people. Without the wealth to pay for increasing amounts of private care over five, 10, 15 or more years, a person can’t truly “age in place.” It is not uncommon for elderly people of some means to move from their own home to independent living, then assisted living, then a nursing home. All of those moves take a terrible toll on the elderly and their children. If you don’t have the means to pay 24/7 caregivers or a respectable nursing home, you are looking at the gaping black hole of elder housing.

The third challenge is the lack of chronic and palliative medical care for frail elders who do not meet hospice criteria. Only 1 percent of American physicians specialize in geriatrics, and doctors or nurse practitioners who make house calls can’t make a living from insurance reimbursements. The overtreatment of the elderly in emergency rooms and hospitals often creates more problems than it solves. It is a systemic problem through which each family must find a way.

Q: What are some of the joys of helping parents and grandparents through old age?

A: The joys come when you as a caregiver can identify and actualize simple things that bring a loved one pleasure: a ride in the car on a beautiful day, a homemade bowl of soup, live streaming of High Holiday services or a granddaughter’s dance concert, a manicure, a fire in the fireplace.

Q: Who should attend the workshop?

A: Many people who are expecting a baby attend multisession birthing classes to be prepared and make appropriate decisions and arrangements. Aging, caregiving and dying are inevitable and can take years. We must consider and learn as much as we can to sustain us through this difficult period. If you are 40 or older, it is not too soon to think about these issues for yourself. If you have a loved one over 70, you must get ahead of the situation to prevent a crisis.

What: Caregiver workshop

Where: Congregation Or Hadash, 746-Trowbridge Road, Sandy Springs; Congregation Beth Jacob, 1855 LaVista Road, Toco Hills


A recent AARP report states that 40 million people provide 37 billion hours of unpaid caregiving a year, or 80 percent of the long-term care in this country, but each of us does not have to reinvent this wheel. Weinstein Hospice created the “Kibud Av V’Eim: Navigating the Journey From Child to Caregiver” workshop to… Read More

Source: Help Offered to Adult Children Becoming Caregivers – Atlanta Jewish Times

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700 Elders Reveal Secrets To Long-Lasting Love Tue, 16 Feb 2016 01:23:52 +0000
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700 Elders Reveal Secrets To Long-Lasting Love


So, grandma, how did you make your marriage last?

Cornell University sociologist Karl Pillemer set out to uncover the secrets to living happily ever after so he asked hundreds of older people about love, relationships, and marriage. Some of their answers were unexpected.

VIDEO: 5 Ways To Save Your Relationship With Science!

Pillemer, a professor of human development, has been surveying elderly people for the past decade about a variety of subjects. For his Marriage Advice Project and latest book, he interviewed 700 older Americans in what he says is the largest in-depth study of long-married people ever done.

Their average marriage length was 43 years — and the longest lasted for 76 years.

Several key insights were things you’ve probably heard before, maybe even from a grandparent. For example, emphasizing experiences and people over material possessions. Or asking yourself old-fashioned questions like “Do we share similar values?” and “Do we both want children?” before tying the knot.

Animal Pairs Prove Love is Blind

Other suggestions weren’t as obvious. Small positive gestures called micro-interactions contributed to strong relationships. That means doing thoughtful things on a regular basis like performing a chore for your partner or walking the dog when it’s not your turn.

Another was doing due diligence before committing by asking whether this person will be a good provider. Sounds slightly outdated at first, but when two people merge their economic lives, they should be on the same page about money management. Avoiding debt also prevents fights that can fray a relationship.

And, uh, what about sex? Intimacy can grow and get better over time, Pillemer found.

Marriage’s Bumpy History: Photos

“…as people grow older, I found that the concept of sex expands to include many kinds of intimacy, like the importance of touching and holding,” he said in a description of his research. “They told me that in a long relationship, when you are changing together the spark changes too — but doesn’t die.” Oh, and staying in shape helps.

Turns out that friendship matters more than a romantic spark in the long-run. Rather than argue over competing interests, the elderly interviewees suggested embracing them. Go to the ballet, try playing golf, and you might end up sharing meaningful experiences.

Single People Can be Happy, Too

When Pillemer interviewed an elderly man named Eugenio for the Marriage Advice Project, here’s what he said about “until death do us part” (warning: might want to have a tissue handy):

Ultimately, going the distance in a relationship is hard. The elderly interviewees prove that success requires discipline, resilience, and self-awareness. “You have to know who you are, and what you want to do with your life,” advises Mary Lee, age 83. Love really can last, even if we don’t.

Some of their advice was unexpected. →

Source: 700 Elders Reveal Secrets To Long-Lasting Love

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People over 65 shared their greatest regret in life – the most common one may surprise you Wed, 03 Feb 2016 04:19:20 +0000
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People over 65 shared their greatest regret in life – the most common one may surprise you

Professor Karl Pillemer was unprepared for the answer he received when he asked older people what they regret most

“What do you regret when you look back on your life?”

That’s what Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell University, founder and director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging, and author of “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans” and“30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage,” asked hundreds of older people as part of Cornell University’s Legacy Project.

As he writes on Quora, he was unprepared for the answer he so often received: “I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.”

Several years ago, when Pillemer, a world-renowned gerontologist (someone who studies older people), met June Driscoll, a particularly spirited 90-year old woman in a nursing home, she told him, “It’s my responsibility to be as happy as I can, right here, today.”

That interaction inspired Pillemer to find out how a generation that’s experienced the most loss, troubling historical events, and illness could possibly be the happiest and to pass this knowledge down to younger generations.

Pillemer launched the Legacy Project in 2004 and asked more than 1,500 Americans over 65 years of age about the most important lessons they learned over the course of their lives. In“30 Lessons for Living” he refers to his subjects as “the experts” because they hold more tried-and-true wisdom than any self-help book or pundit could possibly offer.

Pillemer writes on Quora that he had expected “big-ticket items” like affairs, bad business deals, or addiction as his experts’ biggest regrets.

But over and over again he heard versions of “I would have spent less time worrying” and “I regret that I worried so much about everything.”

“I found this lesson from the experts to be surprising,” Pillemer writes in “30 Lessons for Living.” “Given that they had lived through difficult historical periods and great personal tragedies, I thought they might endorse a certain level of worry.”

Instead, Pillemer explains that the experts view time as one of our most precious resources, and worrying about events that may not occur or that we have no control over is an inexcusable waste of this resource.

“The key characteristic of worry, according to scientists who study it, is that it takes place in the absence of actual stressors; that is, we worry when there is actually nothing concrete to worry about,” he writes on Quora. “This kind of worry — ruminating about possible bad things that may happen to us or our loved ones — is entirely different from concrete problem solving.”

To reduce how much regret we have in a lifetime, the experts suggested increasing the time spent on concrete problem solving and drastically eliminating time spent worrying. They also provided Pillemer with some ways to shift how we think about worry so that we can more readily move past it:

Focus on the short-term rather than the long-term.

“Well, I think that if you worry, and you worry a lot, you have to stop and think to yourself, ‘This too will pass.’ You just can’t go on worrying all the time because it destroys you and life, really. But there’s all the times when you think of worrying and you can’t help it — then just make yourself stop and think: It doesn’t do you any good. You have to put it out of your mind as much as you can at the time. You just have to take one day at a time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, but you can’t always do that because things don’t always happen the way you were hoping they would happen. So the most important thing is one day at a time.” — Eleanor Madison, 102 years old, from “30 Lessons for Living.”

Instead of worrying, prepare.

“If you’re going to be afraid of something, you really ought to know what it is. At least understand why. Identify it. ‘I’m afraid of X.’ And sometimes you might have good reason. That’s a legitimate concern. And you can plan for it instead of worrying about it.” — Joshua Bateman, 74, from “30 Lessons for Living.”

Actively work towards acceptance.

“So many things come to your mind. Now, for instance, somebody might hurt your feelings. You’re going to get back at him or her — well, just let it be. Push it away. So I started doing that. I found it the most wonderful thing because everybody has uncharitable thoughts. You can’t help it. Some people get on your nerves, and that will be there until you die. But when they start, and I find myself thinking, ‘Well, now, she shouldn’t do that. I should tell her that …’ Let it be. Often, before I say anything, I think, “If I did that, then what?” And let it be. Oh, so many times I felt grateful that I did nothing. That lesson has helped me an awful lot.” — Sister Clare, a 99-year-old nun, from “30 Lessons for Living.”

Source: People over 65 shared their greatest regret in life – the most common one may surprise you

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Proposed Minimum Wage to Cost Home Health $1.7 Billion Wed, 27 Jan 2016 14:18:53 +0000
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Proposed Minimum Wage to Cost Home Health $1.7 Billion

Health care associations are fighting back against a proposed $15 minimum wage that could cost hospitals, nursing homes and home health companies at least $2.9 billion annually.

The Healthcare Association of New York (HANY), which is composed of 500 not-for-profit and public hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies and other health care organizations, testified during a budget hearing Monday in front of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees to argue against the proposed 2016-2017 state budget. It hikes the minimum wage to $15 per hour and provides no subsidization to the health care system to cover the cost.

Other industries, including state workers and universities, would see increased funding under the current budget proposal from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, but health care organizations say they would be disproportionately affected by a minimum wage jump.

“While understanding the need for hardworking New Yorkers to achieve a decent wage, we must also make sure health care providers receive adequate reimbursement so they can pay the higher salaries a minimum wage increase will create,” Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske said during the testimony, The Journal News reported.

Several individual cities have already enacted measures to increase minimum wage levels to $15 per hour. The proposal in New York state could cripple the home health industry, which is still wrestling with budget constraints since the U.S. Department of Labor ruled that minimum wage and overtime protections must be extended to home care workers.

HANY argued that the state health care system cannot absorb a higher hourly minimum wage rate of $15, and the state’s home care industry would be hit the hardest. The projected costs to home care agencies alone would reach $1.7 billion annually. For hospitals, the proposal would cost $570 million, and $600 million for nursing homes.

The association urged lawmakers to boost aid to health care providers in the state in order to cover these additional expenses that typically cannot be passed onto consumers or patients.

Written by Amy Baxter

Source: Proposed Minimum Wage to Cost Home Health $1.7 Billion

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How Technology Will Impact Home Health Care Tue, 19 Jan 2016 15:05:59 +0000
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30 Lessons for Loving Trailer Fri, 08 Jan 2016 04:53:32 +0000


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