Category Archives: Faith Community

Boomers Optimistic about Their Future – Until They Need Care

A survey form the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today concluded that most Boomers are optimistic about their future.  That is until you ask them about needing help as they age.  When it comes to the issues surrounding who will provide caregiving when they no longer are able, optimism turns to fear.

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that supports the home care industry, has created a new campaign to address and solve the chronic shortage of health care workers in the United States.
The “60 Caregiver Issues” campaign points out the country needs five million caregivers in the next seven years in order to keep pace with the growing demand from a rapidly aging society. The first issue briefing, The Future of Long-Term Care, lists eight signs the shortage in paid caregivers is getting worse. Those signs are:

  1. The population of older adults in the U.S. continues to rapidly age, igniting demand for long-term services and supports.
  2. A sizable growth in elders and people with disabilities means a growing demand for paid caregivers: home health aides, nursing assistants and personal care aides.
  3. The primary labor pool for direct care workers isn’t keeping pace with national trends, raising concerns about the broad appeal of this occupation.
  4. Direct care workers are leaving the occupation in droves.
  5. The workforce shortage in paid caregivers might be affecting areas of the country differently.
  6. Policymakers, long-term care providers and the general public are hampered by the lack of available data and research on the direct care workforce.
  7. Home care providers and other long-term care entities cite the workforce shortage as a top concern for delivering quality care.
  8. The shortage in workers extends beyond long-term care—and is garnering public attention.

Now let’s look at the state of family caregivers.  A report by the Public Policy Institute (2013) researched the statistics for family caregivers, who provide the majority of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

The Caregiver Support Ratio is defined as the number of potential family caregivers (mostly adult children) aged 45 – 64 for each person aged 80 and older – those most likely to need LTSS.  The caregiver support ratio is used to estimate the availability of family caregivers during the next few decades.

In 2010, the caregiver support ratio was more than 7 potential caregivers for every person in the high-risk years of 80-plus.

In 2030, the ratio is projected to decline sharply to 4 to 1;  and is expected to further fall to less than 3 to 1 in 2050.

Steep rising demand as the population rapidly ages, combined with professional caregiver shortages and shrinking families requires more than policy action.  Every stakeholder (and that takes in to account ALL of us) must take it upon themselves to be better educated on aging issues, plan for their future and make healthy aging a priority.   Just as healthcare has created the need for us to be our own advocates for our health,  we must certainly take this same position with decisions that we make as we age and may eventually need care.

http://www.nahc.org/NAHCReport/nr170213_1/

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.  

When Disaster Strikes – Are you Prepared to Care for Your Loved One?

The devastation we are witnessing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is a reminder that we must all be prepared to care for a loved one, elderly or  disabled neighbor or friend when disaster strikes. Here is a list of 6 basic yet vital precautions that everyone should have in place, especially in the event of a natural or manmade disaster:

Communications Plan

How will you communicate with immediate and extended family members in the event of an emergency?  These discussions should include how to get in touch with neighbors, friends, a loved one’s church or other support systems that are in place.

If your loved one lives in a community setting,  discuss what response and evacuation plans they have in place, including their designated emergency shelters.

Prepare a comprehensive Healthcare and Medication Record that includes but is not limited to:

A healthcare record lists chronic illness, allergies, immunizations, disabilities, doctors and hospitals and emergency contact information (names, relationship and cell phone numbers of family members and/or primary caregivers).

Families can maintain this list on a spreadsheet and share electronically with family members, but also know that a hard copy should be accessible to first responders in  the elderly person’s home.  Placing a decal on the refrigerator door is advisable with all information kept in a baggie or vial inside the refrigerator.  Vialoflife.com is an excellent project and their website has valuable forms, tips and resources.

Have an emergency/escape plan in place

Talk with your loved one about what to do in case of emergency.  Write out simple, clear instructions where it is can easily be read.  If your loved one has any level of cognitive impairment and lives independently, a disaster can cause immediate confusion and anxiety.  In this case,  plans should immediately include receiving aid from someone else.

Emergency supply kits

Three days of food and non perishable food items are advisable to include in case of disaster.  Other items recommended include but are not limited to portable, battery powered radio, flashlight, sanitation and hygiene items, clothing, blankets, cell phone and charger, whistle and photocopies of identification, emergency contacts and healthcare/medication records.   If your loved one has any level of cognitive impairment, make sure food items are easy to open, kits are well marked and simple instructions included.

Plan for pets

Find out what veterinarians and pet services are available to shelter animals in emergencies.  Include in personal information phone and contact information of pet services in the area.

Learn CPR and train on using an automated external defibrillator (AED).  These classes are free and can save someone’s life.  Go to www.redcross.org for training information.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.  

www.AGEucate.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is our Score on Practicing Family-Centered Care?

269483We’re all in this together… the tsunami is here and every one of us serving older adults in some capacity should be getting on the band wagon and FAST.   Person and patient centered care must be focused on supporting and educating families.  When family-centered care is embraced it becomes an approach to health care decision making that involves health care professionals and family members.

Dignity and respect are the core value of family-centered care.  Listening to and honoring a patient’s and families values, perspectives and choices bridges communications between healthcare professionals and understanding the wishes of families.  The delivery of quality care under a family-centered model means understanding and honoring the family’s beliefs, knowledge and cultural backgrounds.

The challenge of providing family-centered, patient-centered care in today’s health care system is complex,  especially for older adults  who are living with dementia or chronic illness.   The time constraints to practice family-centered care when health professionals are stretched for time is a very real problem.

Understanding a family’s knowledge of a loved one’s physical and emotional needs are complex, especially if they do not live with them.  At the same time, far too many older adults are entering hospital systems with no family members to advocate for their care.  If their is cognitive impairment it becomes an even greater challenge to treat that patient.

Family-centered care must start with reaching out to families with education and awareness.  Collaboration with private and public sectors, forming community partnerships, community organizations and faith communities – must be a priority as we face the aging tsunami.

The far majority of caregivers are family members, and that is going to increase drastically as more families cannot afford to pay for private care and staff shortages increase.  New and innovative ways to reach families, educate them early and provide support avenues is absolutely essential to improving care for older adults.

Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  She is a passionate advocate for educating families and those that provide care for older adults.

For more information visit the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care www.ipfcc.org

www.AGEucate.com

 

The “Helper’s High”… Why Volunteering is Good for Your Health

512073Research has shown that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities.  Volunteering often leads to what is referred to as a “helper’s high”.

This high leads to increased trust in others as well as increased social participation. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

Aging changes social networks, so older volunteers especially benefit from the physical and social activity and gaining a sense of purpose.  Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health bene ts from their volunteer activities.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Having just returned from the N4A conference (National Association of Area Agencies on Aging),  I learned that AAA’s rely on more than 90,000 volunteers to meet community needs.  Their “Doing Good is Good for You: Volunteer!” program helps recruit new volunteers and educate older adults about the health benefits of volunteering.

The AAA Stepping Up program offers webinars and assignments for volunteers to serve in their mission of helping older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

The boomers have many opportunities to volunteer, and this is one of many organizations that will benefit, especially as the needs for serving this population and their caregivers rises drastically in the future.  Numerous studies show that volunteering just two hours per week improves cognitive, emotional and physical health.

The future of aging services in this country will rely heavily on the knowledge, talent and care hearts that Boomers and future generations have to offer.  Beyond the health and wellness benefits, volunteering will benefit our communities at all levels from social services, faith based communities and non-profit providers across the spectrum who are partnering together to meet the challenges of our aging world.

For more information on volunteering with an Area Agency on Aging, visit www.areagencyonaging.org/…/volunteer-opportunities

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose mission is to provide transformative change through innovative aging and dementia education  and training.

www.AGEucate.com