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CAREGIVERS: CHOOSE WISELY

CAREGIVERS NEED TO CHOOSE WISELY Caregivers have options for giving care.   It is important to choose wisely to insure the best and safest way to deliver that care. You, as the caregiver, may be a neighbor, friend, or family member who is able to provide some caregiving for free.  Or maybe you receive a stipend or some form of hourly compensation.  While this arrangement may work for a while, it may not be a good long-term solution. GETTING PAID Choose wisely:  While you didn’t mind helping out a bit for free, the need for your help may have increased.  Now you may be sacrificing other income to provide care and need to ask for payment to cover your own expenses.   Payment arrangements between family and friends can be tricky.  So in order to have a clear understanding of expectations and compensation, it is best to put everything in writing.   A professional caregiving agency will have a signed agreement for services to make sure everyone is on the same page. TRAINING Choose wisely: Perhaps your friend or family member needed only occasional assistance with cleaning, a meal or companionship.  Now that need may have grown to include help with walking, dressing and bathing.  At this point, you may be feeling out of your element and concerned about the safety of your loved one and yourself.   Therefore, a wise choice may be to work with an agency that can provide training in best practices. BENEFITS Choose wisely:  Working for yourself sounds attractive, but it can have its drawbacks.  If you get hurt at work, who will pay for your medical expenses? ...

Caregiving: Long Distance

Caregiving is often triggered by crisis.  It usually starts with a call or a visit. Phone conversations become repetitive and confusing. Mom calls to note that Dad has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. A sibling calls to note that Mom is not very steady on her feet. You arrive for your twice a year visit to find the house is not being kept up, bills are not getting paid and food is spoiling in the fridge. It is not uncommon for children to live far away from their parents. Suddenly an adult child is forced to handle a new role as a long-distance caregiver. Caregivers can take steps to help ease the stress of the task. Collecting valuable information on a loved one, assembling a support team, and staying in touch with the people involved are a few ways to take charge of the situation. Do your homework. Find out who you can count on to take care of mom on a regular basis, and who you can turn to for questions, support and help in an emergency. Start a file and try to keep all of the information in one place. Making regular visits is probably the best way to assess your parent’s condition, but you can ask other family members, friends, or paid caregivers to provide feedback for you. Research the services available in your area. Possibilities include: meal delivery, transportation, in-home care for personal needs, help with household chores, and medication monitoring. Assemble your care team. Think of all the people who may be able to help you monitor the situation or provide direct support. Those...

3 Tips for Better Eye Health

Older adults are more sensitive to eye problems as they age.  Following the three simple tips below can help seniors improve eye health & protect themselves from vision loss. Since we rely on our vision for even the most basic tasks, losing the ability to see the world around us can be frightening. As we age, it’s easy to believe deteriorating health is just part of life. But often we can slow down or even stop that process if we work to prevent common health problems. Here are three tips to fight poor vision and maintain healthy eyes no matter what your age! Tip # 1: Add fruits, nuts, and vegetables to main dishes. Vegetables to add: Bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and all dark green, leafy vegetables. Fruits to add: Grapefruit, strawberries, oranges, lemons, berries, cantaloupe Nuts/seeds to add: Sunflower seeds, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts. Why these items? The foods listed above offer valuable nutrients that contribute to eye health. While most vegetables are high in vitamin A, citrus fruits contain a good amount of vitamin C.  Nuts contribute essential fatty acids, which are also important for eye health. These foods can easily be incorporated into any diet. Cut up bell peppers, carrots, and brussel sprouts to add to a salad with dark green romaine. Grab a handful of nuts or seeds for a snack. Add some of these food items to your weekly grocery list to always have fresh food on hand. Tip #2: Choose the right vitamins & supplements No one wants to swallow dozens of pills every morning. However, vitamins and...

Caregiving Changes are in the Air!

The face of caregiving in NE Wisconsin is undergoing some big changes this summer.   The implementation of Family Care is moving case management and funding from the counties to Managed Care Organizations (MCO).  This move has created a flurry of activity as adults currently being served through county waiver programs are interviewed through the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC), select a MCO, and get re-assessed for specific services.  Others are choosing IRIS – a self-directed program that essentially allows an individual to be his or her own case manager and care-worker employer. County Case Managers are finding new positions within the MCOs, ADRCs and IRIS.  (How’s that for a little alphabet soup?)  All the new acronyms are confusing enough, but the choices for the person needing care can seem somewhat overwhelming.  It’s good to see so many of the county Case Managers landing jobs in the new system.  Familiar faces will help to ease the transition for concerned clients. The first task of the counties, MCOs and IRIS is to transition existing clients to Family Care/IRIS.  October 1, 2015 is the target date for having everyone interviewed, re-assessed and authorized for services.  At that time, the county ADRCs will begin addressing the list of those waiting to receive services.   The goal is to eliminate the waiting lists and get services to those in need in a more timely manner. Hopefully, the transition will go smoothly and clients will see little, if any, disruption to their services.  While some people may see an increase in services provided and others a decrease, there will be an effort to be sure...

Kindness Matters

“But will they be kind?” This question was posed by a very independent elderly woman who was new to being cared for. A recent health incident left her unable to shower without assistance. A normally fastidious individual, she was yearning for a real shower – not a sponge bath.   And it was important to her that her caregiver be kind. It is difficult enough to bring a complete stranger into one’s home. Harder still to have that stranger assist with the most personal of tasks. Accepting all of this would be so much easier if the caregiver could be a kind person. Her request was hardly frivolous. In truth, those who become caregivers do not enter this field for the great salaries and benefits or for public accolades. Simply put, good caregivers care. Caregivers often become the link to the community for those who are elderly or have disabilities. They communicate with family members or case managers to report any changes that may signal a need for different kinds of assistance. In-home caregivers often run errands or provide transportation for seniors who are no longer driving. Caregivers are strong advocates for their clients, helping to locate the necessary resources to keep individuals as independent as possible for as long as possible.   And yes, caregivers are...