Current Issue » ParentCare » Vol. 10

Caregiving Now!

by Erin Hansen

Caregivers are People Too!

The National Family Caregivers Association reminds us to thank, support, educate and celebrate more than 50 million family caregivers across the country currently providing an estimated $306 billion in “free” caregiving services. They encourage caregivers to: believe in yourself, protect your health, reach out for help, and speak up for your rights, and cite these ten tips as vitally important to caregiver health ~ physical, emotional, and mental:

1. Caregiving is a job and respect is your earned right.Reward yourself with respite breaks often.

2. Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.

3. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest special things that they can do.

4. Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition and how to communicate effectively with doctors.

5. There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.

6. Trust your instincts. Most of the time they’ll lead you in the right direction.

7. Caregivers often do a lot of lifting, pushing, and pulling.Be good to your back.

8. Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.

9. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.

10. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver, citizen, and human being.

Worth visiting:

Worth reading:

A Family Caregiver Speaks Up [see photo]

As noted on the “Today” show, Suzanne Mintz, the nationally recognized advocate and award-winning President and Co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association, offers America’s millions of caregivers her own inspiring story and expert advice for speaking up for themselves, the loved ones in their care, and all family caregivers.

HHS Sends $36 Million to States to Help Alzheimer’s Patients, Elders, Veterans Stay at Home

Targets people not eligible for Medicaid, but are at high risk of nursing home placement

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $36 million in new grant programs to 28 states to help older Americans and veterans remain independent and to support people with Alzheimer’s disease to remain in their homes and communities. Just over $19 million of this funding involves a new collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and VA Secretary James Peake, M.D., announced the joint effort to provide essential consumer-directed home and community-based services to older Americans and veterans of all ages, as part of a Nursing Home Diversion (NHD) grants program.

The new initiative builds on the similar missions of HHS and the VA with regard to caring for the populations they serve. In addition, Secretary Leavitt announced a $17 million investment to improve the delivery of home and community-based services to people with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers.

In announcing the collaboration, Secretary Leavitt said, “This historic HHS-VA initiative combines the expertise of the HHS’ national network of aging services providers with the resources of the Veterans Health Administration to provide more people, including our nation’s veterans, with improved long-term care options.

This unique effort supports the President’s New Freedom Initiative which calls upon all federal agencies to help people who need long-term care and prefer to live in their own homes and communities to do so. Through this joint program, many people who would have previously been placed in nursing homes will be able to remain at home.”

“Our mission is to honor and support America’s veterans, and this collaboration provides an additional opportunity to do that by offering more services, choices and control over decisions to veterans in the least restrictive environment consistent with their needs and preferences,” Secretary Peake said.

The new program will be administered by HHS’ Administration on Aging (AoA) in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration. Under the program, $10.5 million is being provided by HHS through AoA, and $5.7 million by the states.

VA estimates purchasing at least $3 million in veteran-directed home and community-based services for older veterans and for recently returned veterans with long-term care needs. The number of veterans over age 85 has tripled during the past decade, creating a significant expansion in the need for long term care.

“The HHS funding is specifically designed to reach people who are not eligible for Medicaid, but who are at high risk of nursing home placement and spend-down to Medicaid -which often occurs when private pay individuals enter a nursing home,” said Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell.

“The program will also offer consumers more control over their long-term care, including the ability to determine the types of services they receive and the manner in which they receive them, including the option of hiring their own care workers.”

The $17 million for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers involves grants to 22 states under AoA’s Alzheimer’s disease demonstration programs. States were able to apply for two types of grants: Innovation Grants and Evidence-Based Program Grants. Innovation Grants will demonstrate new approaches to delivering services and supports, and the Evidence-Based Grants will support the replication of science-based interventions that have already proven to be effective at helping people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders to continue to live in the community.

Funding for the Nursing Home Diversion grants program for MA in 2008 is as follows:

Federal Share: $885,165  MA Share: $1,280,832  Total: $2,165,997

In addition, the VA will be awarding $3 million to MA (along with 21 other states):

Alzheimer’s Disease Demonstration Grants to States Awards for 2008:

Innovation Grant Federal Share: $234,627  MA Share: $97,420  Total: $332,047


High-Tech Products to Keep the Elderly Safe at Home

Giving the gift of security to your elderly loved one may be one of the most important things you can do for him or her.  Many elderly people want to live in their own home for as long as possible ~ after all, that’s where a lifetime of memories may be.  On the other hand, for some seniors, dealing with living alone for the first time can be overwhelming, especially if they are facing health and mobility problems.  Whatever the situation may be, technology can help the elderly maintain safety and a sense of independence. Consider a Home Emergency Alert System, which will provide the gift of security, safety, and comfort for both your loved one and you.

Home Security Store offers a line of Home Emergency Alert Systems that vary in cost and function.  You can buy an alert system to call a dispatch center to which you pay a monthly fee, or an alert system that dials 911 directly, or one that dials phone numbers that you pre-program.  Alert systems can be controlled several ways, including by a remote attached to a wireless wrist band, belt clip, necklace, or key chain.

If you’re thinking about buying a Home Emergency Alert System, consider the following:

* What is the range of the remoter or pendant?
* Are multiple remotes available?
* Is the remote water resistant?
* Does the system come with battery backup in case of a power failure?
* How many digits can the dialer call?
* If choosing a monitoring service, what is the monthly fee?

Here are just 2 Home Emergency Alert Systems that Home Security Store recommends:

MS – 2001 SKYLINK Emergency Auto Dialer:

This auto dialer can dial for help in the event of a fall or other emergency.  The device can automatically dial up to 9 phone numbers that you pre-select.  The system dials when the panic button on the wireless key chain remote is pressed.  There is a 40 second message that you prerecord that plays each time a number is dialed.  In addition, the SKYLINK Emergency Auto Dialer features 2-way communication capability allowing the person in trouble to carry on a conversation with a person on the other end of the line.

The 911 Guardian Phone

The Guardian Phone is a simple, more direct solution when you need help.  Requiring no monthly fees, you can talk directly to the emergency 911 operator, instead of calling a call center.  The water resistant pendant, which is included, can be worn around your neck or carried in your pocket at all times.

Both items ~ and more ~ can be purchased online at

It is not often that people build a statue to honor a living person. Carving someone’s image out of bronze usually comes long after the subject is no longer among us. But Bob Cousy holds that unique honor, among many other honors he has accumulated throughout his stellar basketball career.

Elderly Wheelchair Positioning Aids

Inadequate or inappropriate wheelchair positioning can contribute to elderly pressure ulcers, skin tears, bruising, contractures, discomfort, agitation, inability to self-propel, incontinence, unsafe transfers, falls, and injuries. has a wonderful selection of positioning aids to customize a standard wheelchair to fit an elder’s needs. Their inventory includes*:

Posey Deluxe Lateral Arm Support ~ Wheelchair arm support prevents lateral leaning.

Posey Comfy Seat for Wheelchairs and GeriChairs ~ Adds seating comfort and helps prevent skin breakdown.

Posey Wheelchair Wing Backs ~ Wheelchair wing backs provide firm upper trunk support.

Posey Wheelchair Side Supports ~ Help provide bilateral upper torso support.

Posey Leg and Foot Hugger ~ Provides proper leg positioning to increase comfort.

Posey Soft Seat and Back ~ Add cushioned seating comfort. offers a variety of products for the elderly, all with the aim of facilitating as much independence and safety as possible.

Assessing Pain in Loved Ones with Dementia

Persistent pain is common among older persons, who are more likely to suffer from problems such as arthritis and other chronic conditions. The person with dementia often has trouble communicating his or her feelings or thoughts-and this can mean the inability to tell you if a physical problem, such as pain, exists.

If your loved one has dementia, determining if he or she is experiencing pain may be up to you. Careful observation can reveal important clues to let you know that he or she is experiencing pain.

These clues can include:

  • Facial expressions: frowning, looking frightened, grimacing, wrinkling his or her brow, keeping eyes closed tightly, blinking rapidly, or exhibiting any distorted expression.
  • Verbalizations/vocalizations: moaning, groaning, sighing, grunting/chanting/calling out, breathing noisily, asking for help or becoming verbally abusive.
  • Body movements: rigid or tense posture, fidgeting, pacing or rocking back and forth; restricted movement, gait or mobility changes.
  • Behavioral changes: refusing food or showing any appetite change; change in sleep/rest periods; wandering; stopping common routines.
  • Mental status changes: crying, showing increased confusion or irritability, acting distressed.

When does the pain occur?

  • During movement: Signs could be grimacing or groaning during personal care (such as bathing), walking, or transferring (from bed to chair, for example).
  • Without movement: Does your loved one appear agitated or have other behavioral changes, such as trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, or reclusiveness?

If you see any of these signs, talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible, telling him or her what you have noticed and giving examples. Focus on when the pain occurs, and how it seems to be experienced (burning? aching? stabbing?) and whether it occurs with or without movement. Tell your healthcare provider what, if anything, relieves the pain.

It is important to provide your healthcare professional with a history of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines your loved one now takes and has taken in the past, writing down all medications and dosages.

Source: The Management of Persistent Pain, Resources for Older Adults and Caregivers. The American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging Website.

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