Candidates for election are invited to email email@example.com news of their accomplishments and plans vis a vis senior citizens, elders, and boomers. Share a statement of your platform regarding senior citizens’ housing, health, transportation. If you are running for re-election, please describe the highlights of your record on issues important to seniors.
Senior citizens’ lives are potential hot spots for bullying. Bullying here refers to treatment of seniors in an overbearing or intimidating manner that is aggressive. Browbeating and bulldozing to frighten a human being into submission, compliance, or acquiescence. It is elder abuse by aides, assisted living staff, caregivers, companions, family members, homemakers, nursing home personnel, personal care attendants, even seniors themselves…
Many seniors wish to remain in their own homes. Paid caregivers can fill an important role. Senior citizens and family members often have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency for an elderly family member. They assume the person has undergone a thorough criminal background check and drug testing and is experienced and trained for the job. Not so.
A new national study finds many agencies recruit random strangers off Craigslist and place them in the homes of vulnerable elderly people with dementia, fail to do criminal background checks or drug testing, lie about testing the qualifications of caregivers, do not require any experience, do not provide real training, and place unqualified, possibly criminal caregivers in homes of vulnerable seniors.
Geriatrician Dr. Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, reports that "There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It's dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired." To this, I shall add that many seniors do not have families and or are choiceless.
Geriatrician Lindquist has seen bad caregivers accompanying patients in her clinic. "Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it's scary and really puts the senior at risk… We had agencies say they used a 'National Scantron Test for Inappropriate Behavior' and an 'Assessment of Christian Morality Test'… these tests don't exist. If you're not a smart consumer, you won't recognize which agencies are being deceitful."
Identifying the good agencies from the bad is difficult because many agencies have slick websites and marketing campaigns. They are a largely unregulated, rapidly growing industry as our population ages. This is big business with potentially large profit margins and lots of people are jumping into it.
For the study, researchers posed as consumers and surveyed 180 agencies around the country about their hiring methods, screening measures, training practices, skill competencies assessments and supervision. They found: that only 55% of the agencies did a background check. The same condition appears to exist in senior housing –in terms of both screening tenants and staff.
Here are questions to ask an agency prior to hiring a paid caregiver and variations of them of a prospective caregiver/aide before hiring.
1. How do you recruit caregivers, and what are your hiring requirements?
2. What types of screenings are performed on caregivers before you hire them? Criminal background check—federal or state? Drug screening? Other?
3. Are they certified in CPR or do they have any health-related training?
4. Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency?
5. What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home? (These could include lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills such as bathing, dressing, toileting, training in behavioral management and cognitive support.)
6. How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
7. What is your policy on providing a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?
8. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, will a substitute be provided?
9. Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently?
10. Does supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports or in-person at the home of the older adult?
Because elder-care referral agencies lack federal regulation, almost anyone can set up an agency and refer untrained and inexperienced people for in-home senior care. It is important for caregivers to be carefully screened and monitored
Whether to hire a home care aide through an agency or independently is a decision in itself. The easiest and least expensive way may appear to be classified advertisements or word of mouth. Hiring someone independently on your own, can be a good idea only if you have a personal connection or a strong endorsement from a friend. It might, however, create unexpected liabilities for your family, which legally becomes the employer.
Hourly rates of at-home caregivers hired through an agency tend to be higher, but the agency should pay the FICA taxes, cover worker liability insurance, and complete W-4 and W-2 forms. Because an agency may have a stable of caregivers, you might be able to try out a few, and you may have the right of refusal. Agency caregivers are, or should be, bonded and insured, trained in CPR, first aid, and the basics of care.
Unannounced visits to the patient’s home or a nursing home are a very good thing. If you as a family member live far from where the care will be needed, or do not want to get involved with supervising an at-home caregiver day-to-day, an agency can be an acceptable option.
The good news is that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has added ELDERCARE as a category to its American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The survey tracks how much time people spend per day working, performing household tasks, engaging in leisure activities, taking care of children, and now, taking care of older adults. The addition of ELDERCARE as a category reflects the deepening responsibilities Americans age 15+ have for providing unpaid care to someone age 65+ -- a parent, spouse, relative, friend perhaps.
On July 27, 2012, Satellite Housing’s Acting Executive Director announced that “on July 10, 2012, the Board of Directors of Satellite Housing approved a merger with Affordable Housing Associates (AHA) into a new agency, Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA). Like Satellite, Affordable Housing Associates is a Berkeley-based nonprofit housing provider with a mission to create and preserve high-quality affordable housing communities that strengthen individuals, families and neighborhoods.” [sic]
SENIOR POWER column readers should be aware of the significant differences between affordable and low-income senior housing.
“Senior citizens in Delhi to be issued I-cards by police:”
According to New Delhi police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, “a senior citizen complained that they don't have any identity card and that it is a problem for them, so we have decided to issue identity cards to every senior citizen registered with us. The job will be completed in the next one to one-and-a-half months… Senior citizens in the national capital registered with the police will get identity cards as part of efforts to protect them.” Recently, two elderly women were fatally stabbed while attempting to foil robbery attempts. Addressing a press conference, Kumar said Delhi Police are taking all steps to protect senior citizens in the national capital and highlighted the number of arrests made after he took over on June 30. Tough action against snatchers was being taken ever since he took over and assured that the action would continue. Kumar asserted that the law and order situation in the capital was "under control in every sphere,” identifying inter-state gangs and snatchings as the two main reasons behind crime in the capital." [July 26, 2012 India Times. ]
“Stiff upper lip condemns 190,000 older men to loneliness:”
Elderly men in Britain are living in extreme loneliness but are often unwilling to seek help or companionship because of a “stiff upper lip.” Office for National Statistics figures show 190,000+ men over age 75 live in serious isolation in Britain. Polling found that men are more likely than women to live lives dominated by isolation and loneliness. Yet they are also less likely to seek help even if they are suffering from depression. 36% of men described themselves as lonely or very lonely, many going for days without speaking to anyone. Among women, the rate was 31%. One in six people in Britain are elderly. While women still outlive men, the gap is narrowing. Only one in 10 men are willing to talk about their feelings with friends and family compared with a quarter of women. Women's Royal Voluntary Service WRVS, a charity befriending service for vulnerable older people, said that contact with younger people – male and female -- could make a crucial difference through simple acts like taking someone for a drink in the pub or out shopping. [July 26, 2012 The Telegraph]
“Canadians wait too long to determine end-of-life care”
Critical care specialist Dr. Daren Heyland states in his personal directive -- a legal document that set outs the treatments he would and would not want should he ever lose the capacity to speak for himself -- that he would rather die than be left dependent on others to feed, dress, bathe or otherwise provide total care for him. Yet 80% per cent of Canadians do not have a written plan about what life-prolonging treatments they would accept or reject at the end of life, and fewer than half have discussed the issue with their families, according to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll. Only 46% per cent have designated a substitute decision maker -- someone to speak on their behalf if they became incapacitated. Without any guide posts set by the patient, the system takes over. The fallback, doctors say, is to keep going -- to provide increasingly intensive and invasive care that ultimately prolongs dying, leading to a poorer quality of life, unnecessary pain and suffering and increased rates of depression, anxiety and even post- traumatic stress disorder for the surviving family.” [The Province. Postmedia News July 27, 2012]
“More elderly living in 'empty nest' homes”
The number of people above age 60 living in so called "empty nest" families is surging in China. It will add pressure to the care services for the elderly, according to a report in the Economic Information Daily. Statistics show that at the end of 2010, there were 38,060 care service institutions for the elderly in the country. Those institutions had 2.66 million beds and housed 2.11 million elderly people, which represented only 1.59% of the elderly population, much lower than the average level of 5 to 7 percent in more developed countries. "At the end of 2020, China is expected to have 248 million people above age 60, which will account for 17.2% of the country's population,… And at the end of the 22nd century, the number of China's elderly people is expected to surge to 318 million, which will be over 31 percent of the population" said Yan Qingchun, vice-president of the China National Committee on Aging. [China Daily. July 27, 2012]
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. You’re welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mondays, August 6, 13, 20, and 27. 6 P.M. Evening computer class. Central Berkeley Public Library. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Monday, August 6. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" - Knitting Group at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Free. Louise O’Dea, 510-524-3043
Tuesday, August 7. 7 P.M. ESL Conversation Group. El Cerrito Library of the Contra Costa County Library. 6510 Stockton Avenue. Free 510-526-7512
Wednesday, August 8. Annual Healthy Aging Fair. Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. Free. A wheel-chair accessible BART Shuttle will operate from the South Hayward BART station between 8:30 A.M. and 3 P.M. Transportation will also be available from some senior centers. Contact: Delbert Walker 510-577-3532, Amy Holloway 510-577-3540.
Thursday, August 9. 1:30 P.M. Newark Library, 6300 Civic Terrace Av. HEALTHY EATING FOR OLDER ADULTS: My Neighbor's Kitchen Table. Nutritionists Mary Collett, MPH and RD, Mary Louise Zernicke, MS, MPH, RD, CSG will discuss the special nutritional needs of seniors, including how our traditional foods can fit into a healthy eating plan, taking supplements and much more. Free. 510-795-2627. For information about dates and addresses for other Alameda County libraries, contact Patricia Ruscher, Older Adult Services at 510-745-1491. 510-526-3720.
Thursdays, August 9 and 16. 12:15-2:15 P.M. Literacy Reading Club with Lisa Wenzel. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Practice English conversation, meet other adults, discuss a good book. Free. 510-526-3720.
Thursdays, August 10, 16, 23 and 30. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Saturday, August 11. 2-3 P.M. Kaiser Community Troupe. At the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Mixing the magic of drama, music, and dance. Bring grandchildren to the Kaiser Community Troupe and learn about their important health messages through interactive performances including Mascot Ambassadors of Health and Wellness addressing nutrition, physical activity, safety, drinking water, and celebrating fruits and vegetables. Free. 510-526-3720
Tuesday, August 14. 2 P.M. How to self publish, with author Stella Baker. North branch, Berkeley Public Library. 1170 The Alameda. Free. 510-981-6250.
Wednesday, August 15. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190.
Saturday, August 18. 2-3 P.M. Kaiser Community Troupe. At the Newark Library, 6300 Civic Terrace Av. Mixing the magic of drama, music, and dance. Bring grandchildren to the Kaiser Community Troupe and learn about their important health messages through interactive performances including Mascot Ambassadors of Health and Wellness addressing nutrition, physical activity, safety, drinking water, and celebrating fruits and vegetables. Free. 510-795-2627
Saturdays, August 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. 1 – 5 P.M. Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 5366 College Av. California Writers’ Club – a workshop open to all writers. Free. Contact: Anne Fox 510-420-8775.
Monday, August 20. 7 P.M. Am evening with Pat Mullan and her jazz quartet. A concert of jazz arrangements and maybe a little classical music on the side that will be delivered in the unique trombone style. With Curtiss Mays, David Hemphill, Justin Mar and Pat Mullan, leader. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510- 524-3043.
Wednesday, August 22. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Selections from The Bhagavad Gita. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.
Wednesday, August 22. 1:30 P.M. Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190
Monday, August 27. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. August’s book is Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone. Free. 510-524-3043.
Tuesday, August 28. 7 P.M. Readers Anonymous. Book Club. Moshin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. Free. 510-526-7512.
Wednesdays, Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.
Thursdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Free. 510-981-6241.
Mondays, Sept. 10, 17 and 24. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Thursdays, Sept. 13, 20 and 27. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Central Berkeley Public Library. , 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Wednesday, Sept. 26. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Free. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.
Wednesdays, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.
Wednesday, October 24. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Troth, by Gregor von Rezzori. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.
Tuesday, Nov.6. 7 A.M.- 8 P.M. Election Day.
Wednesdays, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.
Wednesday, November 28. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.
Wednesday, Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.