A1. WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF OUR OLDER ADULTS IN THE FUTURE?
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A1. WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF OUR OLDER ADULTS IN THE FUTURE? by Neil Johnson
That's a question with which many of us are wrestling. As our parents age, the vast majority of them want to stay in their homes, and currently, 90% of all care provided in the home is done by a family caregiver. According to "Transform 2010 Report" from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, for each one percent drop in the number of family caregivers, it costs the overall care system $30 million.
The average length of family caregiving is 4.3 years. But many caretakers also work full time at their own jobs. In fact, one-fifth of today's workers are also elder caregivers. On average, long-distance caregivers– those who live more than an hour away from their loved one--miss 20 hours of work per month. Given that the senior population is expanding as Baby Boomers reach 62, how are we going to meet the increased care needs resulting from this imminent age wave?
To complicate matters, the home care industry is currently experiencing escalating shortages of nurses, therapists, home health aides and personal care attendants (PCAs). The average age today of a nurse is 47; the average age of a nursing professor is 65. There is also an acute shortage of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists, as well as home care social workers.
The Department of Employment and Economic Development has consistently listed PCAs and home health aides as the fastest-growing jobs on the market. Unfortunately, typical wages for these positions are now $9-12 per hour, hardly a living wage in today's economy. Why is the pay so low? Agencies providing these services are reimbursed at about 40% of their costs by state-funded programs and cannot afford to pay higher wages. Reimbursement rates for medical assistance are set by the state legislatures, and Congress sets rates for Medicare. Adding to the low wages is the high cost of gas. Gas prices have forced staff to re-think distances they are willing to drive, resulting in the need for providers to limit their service areas.
So where to begin? We need to adequately fund these programs to recruit and retain staff. But it's not enough to just add more money to the system. First and foremost, we need to recruit people into eldercare at an earlier age, letting young people know that taking care of our older adults is a satisfying and rewarding career choice. Additionally, Baby Boomers can be valuable resources and part of the solution. Having the freedom to work flexible hours and the means to give back to their community are job attributes that help engage Baby Boomers in eldercare.
We need to do more to support family caregivers by giving them tools such as respite services, training, mentoring/coaching, and advocacy. And we can encourage employers to offer flexible work schedules. This just makes good business sense; such flexibility of hours has been shown to decrease stress and increase worker productivity.
Some changes in the caretaking process are happening already. Co-housing communities, in which neighbors share the duties of eldercare and pay a membership fee for home care aides, are forming, or are already in full swing (see bostonvillages.org, for example). Member-owned health care cooperatives, such as Care Ventures in west central Minnesota, are taking shape. (Care Ventures is made up of 17 long-term care organizations). And there are currently 31 neighborhood-based block nurse programs in Minnesota.
Further examples: The U.S. Administration on Aging is currently paying for service coordinators at 60 "naturally occurring retirement communities," or NORCs. These are neighborhood blocks or apartment buildings where many people have grown old together. And a few state Medicaid programs are giving the elderly vouchers to purchase home-care services.
Technology can certainly play a role in enhancing eldercare as well. Telehealth (Wikipedia's definition) is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Telehealth delivery could be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as sophisticated as using videoconferencing between providers at facilities in two countries, or even as complex as robotic technology. Telehealth service management, implementation of and sharing electronic medical records, and a variety of assistive technologies can all improve service levels. For example, a nurse using telehealth equipment can potentially make up to 15 visits a day, rather than the standard five. Sensors can be placed around the home to remotely monitor a senior’s activities and movement.
Finally, we need better ongoing training for people who do the important job of home care. Web-based education, for example, could enhance individual competencies and be integrated into the formal training and certification process.
The task is enormous, but it can be accomplished. Collaboration and cooperation between health-care systems will be necessary. Partnerships among businesses, faith communities, educational institutions, health care providers, and families will be essential.
Similar to the adage "It takes a village to raise a child," consider that "it takes a community to care for its elders." Only by working together can we ensure that our eldercare and home care systems meet the growing needs of the marketplace. In 2004, there were 36.3 million people over the age of 65 in the United states, or 12 percent of the population. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to at least 20 percent, or about 71.5 million.
So we need to enlist that great and amazing trait that never fails--American ingenuity--to create a senior caretaking system that will serve us well both today and into the future.
Neil Johnson is Executive Director of MN HomeCare Association, the statewide voice for the home care industry. Find further info on www.mnhomecare.org
Learn more about the cargiving here: http://www.seniorresource.com/ageinpl.htm#point
A2. YOU, TOO, COULD BE A LIFESAVER–BE AN ORGAN DONOR by MEM, Aliso Viejo ,CA
Organ donation is a very touchy subject. I was always against it. I just did not want to think about that aspect of my life or bout what would happen to my body after I left this earth. Today my opinion has changed. I now think about what I can do to help others in need. I think about the legacy I can leave behind and how I can truly give something of myself to another human being. Being an organ donor would allow me to bestow the greatest gift, the gift of life. For me it would be the ultimate act of volunteering and contributing to my community. Maybe after reading this article, you, too will decide that organ donation is for you.
Imagine that tomorrow morning you wake up and find out that you're moving to the beautiful island of Hawaii, effective immediately, and you have a closet filled with warm winter coats, all of them perfectly usable coats, but all of them now perfectly useless to you. Would you pack up all those coats and take them with you to Hawaii? Would you throw them in the trash heap and forget about them? Or would you leave them behind for someone else to use? Although the decision to make an organ or tissue donation is far more complex than deciding what to do with a closet full of coats, the concept is the same.
Understanding organ donation can make you feel better about your choice. If you've delayed your decision to be a donor it may be because of inaccurate information. Here are answers to some common organ donation myths and concerns, provided by the Mayo Clinic. Hopefully, this information will help make the decision to donate a little easier.
Myth: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save my life.
Fact: When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life and not somebody else's. A doctor will see you whose specialty most closely matches your particular emergency. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with transplantation.
Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and most branches of Judaism. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, ask a member of your clergy. Another option is to check the federal Web site OrganDonor.gov, which provides religious views on organ donation and transplantation by denomination.
Myth: I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
Fact: There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Don’t disqualify yourself prematurely. Let the doctors decide at your time of death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.
Myth: I'm not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.
Fact: Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.
Myth: My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Fact: The organ donor's family is never charged for donating. The family is charged for the cost of all final efforts to save your life, and those costs are sometimes misinterpreted as costs related to organ donation. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.
By donating your organs after you die, you can save or improve as many as 50 lives. And many families say that knowing their loved one helped save other lives helped them cope with their loss. Now that you have the facts, you can see that being an organ donor can make a big difference, and not just to one person. It's especially important to consider becoming an organ donor if you belong to an ethnic minority. Minorities including African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Hispanics are more likely than whites to have certain chronic conditions that affect the kidney, heart, lungs, pancreas, and liver. Certain blood types are more prevalent in ethnic minority populations. Because matching blood type is necessary for transplants, the need for minority donor organs is especially high.
Becoming an organ donor is easy. It is said that 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor. You can indicate that you want to be a donor in the following ways:
Register with your state's donor registry. Most states have registries. Check the list at OrganDonor.gov.
Designate your choice on your driver's license. Do this when you obtain or renew your license.
Sign and carry a donor card. Cards are available from OrganDonor.gov.
It's also important to tell your family that you want to be a donor. Hospitals seek consent from the next of kin before removing organs, although this is usually not required if you’re registered with your state's donor registry. The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to put them in writing. Include your wishes in your living will, as well as on your driver's license. If you have no next of kin or you doubt your family will agree to donate your organs, you can assign durable power of attorney to someone who you know will abide by your wishes. A lawyer can help you prepare this document.
Here are some staggering statistics that explain why organ donation is so needed:
- More than 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants.
As you can see, being an organ donor is a generous and worthwhile decision that can be a lifesaver. There are many stories out there from families who have been touched by such a gift. But for every individual who receives an organ donation, there are many, many more people who are waiting to receive one. The website http://www.donatelife.net is a helpful website that will explain, inspire, and assist you if you decide to become an organ donor. We are all on this earth for a very short time. Leaving behind a legacy such as the gift of life can be an extremely rewarding opportunity for all involved
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
1. Computer and Internet Security Help
In an effort to aid our readers we from time to time provide a few excerpts from the government site.
You’re thinking of bidding in an online auction, or selling some of your stuff? Internet auctions are a great resource for shoppers and sellers, but you need to watch out for some pitfalls. Here's how:
Evaluate how soon you need to receive the item you're bidding on, and whether you can tolerate it being delivered late, or even not delivered. Many complaints about Internet auction fraud involve late shipments, no shipments, or shipments of products that aren’t the same quality as advertised.
Learn more about this topic at http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/internet-auctions.aspx
2. Caribbean Research Project
Sweet Patootee is currently working on a 1937-1948 Caribbean reminiscences project. As part of their approach they are searching for American contributors. They would like to make contact with American women and men/and or relatives, who might like to contribute reminiscences of the Caribbean from 1937-1948 (whether as civilians or as members of the armed forces).
Contact information is as follows:
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
Patio pet doors provide a great way to provide pet access next to your existing sliding doors. Once installed, the screen door cannot be shut all the way or pet door access is blocked. Until the Bug Warden arrived, the only option was to close the screen door to the point where the patio pet door starts, leaving a bug gap between the edge of the partially opened screen door up to 3" wide by over 6 feet tall...more than 200 square inches of mosquito, fly, and other pest access. The Bug Warden blocks bugs from entering the bug gap by adhering to the side of the exterior face of the patio pet door and extending out a soft flexible material to provide a bug-blocking seal with your screen door. Learn more here: http://www.seniorresource.com/bugwarden.htm
2. Travel for Senior Women
E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
1. Fond Memories
2. Female Comebacks!
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Aging in Place