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A Fulfilling Caregiving Career

Hi, it’s me, Christine!

Hope everybody’s doing OK. As for me, my new career as a caregiver is looking up!

Just want to fill you in real fast in case you missed my first post. Last time, I was talking about how much I was “over” working as a manager in fast-food, and how I just received my CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) credential in Ohio. But then I hit a wall – what’s next? I was looking for a new career path that will allow me to set my own schedule so I can spend more time with my kids, Lucas, 6, and Mia, 22 months, to give my mom and sisters some relief from always babysitting for me. If I can, I’d love to even choose how much money I can make per hour – I mean, within reason!

Anyway, I googled “part-time nursing assistant jobs” and came across this website, www.caregiverusa.com.  After looking the site over a little bit, I decided to sign up!

So, first I should talk to you about the important business aspects of joining CGUSA before I get to the really good part – getting hired. You should understand that, basically, CGUSA is empowering you to run your own business. That’s right, members are “caregiver entrepreneurs” so to speak, in that I (and, you, if you join) can set your own hours, manage your own time, and establish your own pricing.

I told you last time I filled out the short, “easy-peasy” online application and cut-and-pasted my resume inside it. I sent it off and immediately got an email confirmation from CGUSA that it was received.

Shortly thereafter, I’d say a week or so, I received a notification that CGUSA accepted my application. I was invited to sign up for an annual subscription . . .

Uh oh! I thought this is where they get you. But hey, I found out the cost to join Caregiver USA is very reasonable. Only $68 a year for caregivers, regardless of the certifications you have. That’s only $5.67 a month. Sweet!

CaregiverUSA could help you start a rewarding caregiving career of your own. Call us at 614-408-9939 to find out more!

Next, I’m told they need to perform a free background check on me. That’s right, it’s included in my $68 fee, which is a relief! Gotta say, having people verify my social security number and look into my education, employment, any criminal history, etc. is what I expected since I know people are concerned about whether or not the people coming into their home or that of a loved one has a “record”. I mean, wouldn’t you be? The normal background check is three years, but CGUSA goes back seven. Again, that’s OK. I want to be part of respected caregiver network that has a reputation for making sure its workers are good, honest people.

Being a caregiver entrepreneur also offers flexibility, freedom, and control over your work-life balance.

Of course, I passed the background check. (They didn’t count a couple parking tickets, hahaha!)

Did you know CGUSA pays you directly electronically? What’s more, you can look up exactly how much you’ve made after – say – three days, and figure out if you want to accept any extra hours that may be offered. And you know the really good part? They don’t take out any taxes, so you can keep more of what you earn, and “write off” your mileage, any supplies you buy, etc., at the end of the year. You’re an independent contractor. Just be sure to keep track of your receipts to score the extra tax benefits.

There’s real potential to make what I would call good money! Specific rates are kind of determined by where in the country you live. In Ohio, most people set their fee between $18 and $20 an hour. It’s a supply-and-demand business, after all.

You should know CaregiverUSA takes credit cards from the care seekers you would be working for and has a highly secure encrypted internet security system through its website and the apps it provides to caregivers. I already told you the annual subscription fee for caregivers to sign up is like, ridiculously low. It makes sense then, that to support the set-up and maintenance of the extensive database, search features, credit card payment system and all the security bells and whistles, that Caregiver USA needs more than $5.67 a month from its caregivers to pay for all the services it provides. After all, it is running a business! All that being said, it withholds only 10% of caregivers’ weekly earnings to help maintain the site and provide the banking services to both caregivers and care seekers at the best possible level. Sounds more than fair to me.

What’s more, as a “caregiver entrepreneur,” (love that phrase!) you’re going to want and need liability insurance. This is what care seekers demand, for their own protection and peace of mind. Fortunately, CGUSA offers you a very modestly priced group policy with a lump sum premium paid at the beginning of your work year. Again, it’s priced really low, at less than $10 a year for coverage. It’s definitely a lot cheaper than buying a policy on your own. Besides, as I said, very few care seekers will even consider hiring a caregiver without liability insurance.

CNA Christine shares with us how rewarding her caregiving career is – putting smiles on faces, including her own! CaregiverUSA could help you start a rewarding caregiving career of your own. Fill in the form or call us at 614-408-9939.

Next, they asked me to review my calendar and block out times I am available to work (and the times I’m absolutely not).

As I said in my last post, I’m currently working full-time as a manager at a fast-food restaurant, but it’s too many hours and I am flaming out under the stress. The convenience and ability to choose when and how often I can work is great for my situation.

After being encouraged to add photos and other personal information to my online CGUSA caregiver profile so it would be easy for care seekers to find me, I was ready to launch my CNA career. Fortunately, as a CGUSA caregiver, there are three different ways I can find work (or it can find me!) 1) I can search for jobs in the database that meet my criteria. 2) Care seekers can search profiles of people they are looking for, based on credentials and expertise. 3) Care seekers can post their jobs on an electronic job board and caregivers can respond. Both the caregiver and care seeker communicate with each other via a secure internal email system.

So this is what is happening now. I was not active in the database very long at all when this woman named Mary Jane contacted me. She says her father, John, 72, has Alzheimer’s and her mother, Anna, 65, has high blood pressure, diabetes, and is having a really hard time dealing with her own issues while trying to care for John. Mary Jane has five siblings, but everybody lives in different states. Mary Jane is the closest to John and Anna, however, living about two hours away by car, so the burden of looking in on her parents has fallen to her.

Poor Mary Jane! I’m guessing she’s about 45-years-old. She said she has a demanding, full-time job as a senior manager at a Fortune 500 Company; a husband, three kids ranging from ages 3 to 8, and two dogs. Every Friday, for the last three months, she leaves work and does all this driving in rush hour traffic to John and Anna’s house. While there, she does the housework and cooks five days worth of meals for her parents. She stays with them till Sunday morning, crack of dawn when she drives back home to go to church with her family. Mary Jane is trying to help her parents while she is drowning herself. She’s even thinking of quitting her job if things don’t improve. (And I thought I had it rough!)

Anyway, we’ve traded several internal messages back and forth and finally spoke on the phone, having given out our numbers earlier. She wants to know if I can come over to her parents’ house (about 12 minutes away from me by car in medium traffic — yay!) and help out with housecleaning, cooking, and maybe running some errands so that she (and her mom) can get a little bit of a break from the constant needs of her dad.

Sure, I can do that!

Mary Jane already knew from the online calendar that I am available from 10 am-2 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There was like no drama over money, because I set my price at $18 an hour, and it showed up on my profile before she even contacted me. Again, I am starting out as a “companion.” When I add more CNA work (performed under the supervision of a physician or an RN) I may boost my rate up to $20 an hour when my contract comes up for renewal. Not bad for starting out in a new career!

I just told my husband Daniel the great news, and he is excited for me, and for our family! I’ll let you know how it’s going after taking care of John a few weeks.

Gotta go!


CaregiverUSA could help you fulfill your life purpose to help others with their caregiving needs. Fill in the form below or call us at 614-408-9939.

5 Ways to Prevent Falls in the Elderly

How many of you are caring for the elderly, or are looking for part-time elderly care? It’s not easy. There are so many things to look out for, and so many challenges to face.

One of the biggest challenges is prevention of falls in the elderly. There are many other things to talk about when it comes to caring for the elderly but accidental falling can be a nightmare and is an ongoing plight feared by many. So how do we prevent falls in the elderly?

We know that falls, and the resulting complications, can be very dangerous for old people but they are also one of the most common risk factors – it’s just too easy to let them happen. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.” So this problem is not only widespread, it is also hidden. Caregivers end up in a difficult position of having to prevent things before they can happen.

So, What Can We Do?

Many risk factors and prevention techniques have been identified in medical and healthcare literature, so let’s go through some of the more important among these. This might go a long way in saving the lives of our loved ones. Some of these risk factors are intrinsic and you may need professional help before you can notice them, for example, examination for back problems. Other factors are environmental and to some extent they cannot be controlled easily. But there are other factors that are within the power of caregivers – both formal and informal – to deal with.

Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, or affect balance and co-ordination.


Forewarned is forearmed. Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, or affect balance and co-ordination. This applies to everyone, not just the elderly. Caregivers might not always be in a good position to know this – medical confidentiality and lacking pharmaceutical knowledge might hinder this. But the elderly or their legal representatives should be able to ask their doctors or pharmacists to identify those medicines (whether prescribed or over-the-counter) that increase the risk of falling. The doctors especially, should be able to tell whether any particular medicine is a risk to any particular patient.


Remember that awful, horrible feeling when you wrench an ankle wearing thick soles on uneven ground? Think of this, only much worse, if an elderly person’s feet wobble too much wearing high heels with no ankle support. Backless shoes, even slippers with smooth soles, all pose a variety of footwear-related risks. In Asia, another type of footwear to worry about are the communal slippers used for many bathrooms (they could be wet, too). There are many ways footwear can be unsafe – they can interfere with a safe and proper gait, they can be too slippery, or they can be too large and be a tripping hazard. We should ensure our elderly not only have proper and safe footwear for going out, but also for using within the home – this is especially important for bathroom slippers since the elderly may need to access a potentially wet floor late at night, possibly without wearing their glasses, while urgently rushing to answer the call of nature.

Tripping / Slipping Hazards

We already mentioned smooth-soled shoes as a slipping hazards. But there’s more. The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place for the elderly when it comes to a fall risk. The floor can be smooth and wet, and placing loose rugs may do nothing to solve this problem – they might even increase the risk of slipping (remember how frequently the elderly may need to use the bathroom at night). Bathrooms often also have little kerbs, especially at the shower areas that are naturally often quite wet. Try to use rugs with a rubberised underside, to prevent elderly users from slipping on them, and of course try to keep the floors dry. Rough surfaces or rubber mats are another potential safety measure.

But that’s just the bathroom. Falls can happen anywhere in the house or outside it, so watch out also for objects cluttering the floor, uneven ground, slopes, and smooth surfaces.

Walking assistance such as walking sticks is a great way to prevent falls in the elderly.


Now, this might be a bit difficult. So far, we’ve talked about removing problems, or learning information. That’s not expensive. But sometimes we may need to make some investments for the long term. We don’t really need to wrap our elderly in tons of cotton wool everywhere they go, but it would help if grab rails or other supports are installed in the more important places, such as indoor stairs or places that may often have wet floors, like the bathroom. Walking aids should also be chosen carefully. A walking cane for the elderly should not be too heavy, and should be adjusted to the correct height so that a cane-assisted walking posture does not itself turn out to be a falling risk.


Protein, calcium, essential vitamins and water. All these sound very commonsensical. However, what an elderly person needs for a suitable diet may not be the same as what healthy middle-egd adults need. Some changes are common to all elderly – for example, switching to softer foods. Moreover, a healthy diet can go a long way to prevent numerous other problems that increase the risk of falling. Diet also needs to cater to a person’s specific medical issues, for example, seniors with blood pressure issues or suffering from diabetes may also need special care diet-wise, to prevent fainting spells from suddenly standing up.

Health Care Decisions For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2015, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of care for those who have this disease. Early detection can allow you to get the maximum benefit from available treatments, participate in decisions about your care and planning for your future and access care and support services for you and your family.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it is important to make an appointment with your/your loved one’s primary care physician. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, so the chief treatment goals are to:

  • maintain quality of life
  • maximize function in daily activities
  • enhance cognition, mood and behavior
  • foster a safe environment
  • promote social engagement, as appropriate

One key decision you will need to make or help your loved one make, is whether care should be provided at home or in a healthcare facility. As making the appropriate health care decisions for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is important.

Michele Lynn and her sister had to make that decision when their mother, now 99 years old, was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago. Her mother spent a short period of time after diagnosis in her own home.

“Mom and my sister both lived in New Jersey at the time, and I was in Ohio,” Ms. Lynn said. “My mother is very strong-willed and had a great desire to be independent. My sister visited Mom every day and felt that as a retired person she should care for Mom herself. We talked about the responsibilities my sister would have. I emphasized that my sister would not have family support close by. She would be responsible for hiring and monitoring help. Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s is a 24/7 job. It would have been nice if we could have had a companion during the day to help with Mom, but ultimately, as the disease began to progress, we decided that it was in everyone’s best interest to find a good Alzheimer’s care facility.”

Ms. Lynn’s mother spent eight years in a small memory unit in New Jersey.

What’s your health care plan for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?

“Then, my sister moved to Florida, and I found the right home for Mom in Ohio,” Ms. Lynn said. “I had full responsibility for selecting her residence. I was looking for somewhere that would offer peace and quiet; and cleanliness and the attitude of the staff were very important to me. At one place I visited, I heard members of the staff standing around, complaining; at another the floor in the dining area was filthy. The place I selected was beautiful and clean, and the attitudes of the staff were amazing.”

All was well for the first year and a half that her mother lived in the memory unit at that facility, but then things changed.

“I had to get very demanding about training for the staff and how certain procedures were handled,” Ms. Lynn said. “My mother fell and was badly hurt, and I heard four different versions of what had happened. I also found out that men were trying to get into her room, seeking interaction. Mom was falling in the middle of the night. After installing an exterior lock on the door, the falls stopped. Other lapses in care occurred. I acted as an advocate not only for Mom but for other residents, too. All of the patients deserve respect and attention. Just because someone has dementia doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of what is going on around them.”

Ms. Lynn emphasizes that just because your loved one is receiving professional care, that doesn’t mean they don’t still need you.

“You have to be there and listen and pay attention,” she said. “You have to remember that you are trusting staff with a precious being who won’t be here forever. Advocate for your loved one to ensure they are safe.

“Do the things your loved one likes to do. Do what you can to bring them joy. My mother loves flowers, so I bring flowers that we arrange together. She lights up. I also arrange for musical groups to sing for the residents. Music is a wonderful therapy for memory patients.

“I’ve also never stopped finding outside help. Hospice has become involved as Mom has declined. They provide an extra set of eyes and ears for my mother. They also provide me much-needed support. It’s important for me as a caregiver to get personal support.”

Pamela Williams, now a registered nurse, previously worked as a nurses aide in an advanced Alzheimer’s unit at a long-term care facility and also cared for her grandmother at home after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She agrees with Ms. Lynn that a support system is so important when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

“We were fortunate because she was diagnosed pretty early,” Ms. Williams said. “She had a really great physician who put her on a couple of medications that really helped to slow the process. At first she mainly just needed help with medication management, laundry, cooking and cleaning. My parents lived right next door, and my aunt and uncle lived just a mile and a half away. One of my sisters and one of my cousins was still in town, so we had a great family support system. I moved in initially, and when I moved out my parents moved in with her, choosing her house over their own since hers was all one level and they knew that at some point, she wouldn’t be able to go up and down the stairs in their home.”

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What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s? 

Eventually, her grandmother’s care needs increased.

“She began to need help with bathing and other personal care,” Ms. Williams said. “That is definitely something you need to consider if you plan to care for your loved one at home – that is a daily need, and a personal one. By then I was living a mile away and would drive over once a day to help my parents with her. I was a nurses aide at the time and was more comfortable with it. She was my grandmother, and I loved her and was happy to help.

“As her needs progressed, at times my parents would get stressed out and need a break. If you are a caregiver and you don’t have family and friends close by who are willing and able to offer respite care like we did, I think it is so important that you seek out other resources. Contact your Area Office on Aging or whatever resources your community has to offer.”

Ms. Williams points out that care needs will change and increase over time, and it is important to be prepared for that.

“Know that even if symptoms are mild early on, they will get worse,” she said. “We were very lucky that my Grandma wasn’t aggressive, never got sundowner’s, never wandered, but I saw these symptoms in others at work. Some of the patients I cared for forgot how to walk, how to speak. Their care needs were extensive. New symptoms can present at any time, and that can change the course you need to take. There is no cure for this disease, so inevitably, there will come a time that you will either need to find a healthcare facility with an Alzheimer’s unit for your loved one or you will need resources to support you as a caregiver. Don’t wait for that to happen – research those options before you have a desperate need for them so you can take your time and make the right decisions for your family.”

Signs of Alzheimer's are not to be mistaken with age related changes

Living with Alzheimer’s – is more than just memory loss.

Following are 10 warning signs that you or a loved one might have Alzheimer’s:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

For more details on each of these symptoms, visit Alzheimer’s Association‘s website.

How can you tell the difference between Alzheimer’s symptoms and typical age-related changes? The following chart from the Alzheimer’s Association can help:

Signs of Alzheimer’s Typical age-related changes
Poor judgment and decision making Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or the season Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them Losing things from time to time

There is a wealth of information available through the Alzheimer’s Association website, or by calling the association’s 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. You can also jump right to a section of the website that will help you map out a personalized action plan for your family at https://www.alzheimersnavigator.org.

Serenity For Seniors

An aquarium stocked with colorful tropical fish does the trick.

Happiness is watching the pretty things go by – and these seniors were full of eager anticipation as they watched me set up an aquarium at their day care center. Their faces lit up when I released into the once neglected tank, dozens of tiny fish – brilliantly hued neon tetras flitting merrily with multi-colored guppies.

All it took to transform the tank were a few packets of gravel, a dozen aquatic plants, a filter pump, an under-gravel air stone, and an overhead light. And, a deft eye and hand to place the entire lot in a pleasing arrangement. Half-a-day’s work and hey presto, the magic of an undersea world was up and running… adding new life literally to the recreational needs of the center’s seniors.

Mrs. Richards (not her real name), who is 95, likes to spend a few minutes each day watching the fish, especially when they rush to the surface during feeding time. “They are so beautiful… I see they have been growing slowly, but steadily, over the last few weeks.”

Watching the fish in an aquarium brings her a sense of serenity, says Mrs. Richards.

Some dental clinics have taken to placing aquariums in their waiting area. Watching the fish can be effective in reducing anxiety in patients awaiting dental surgery, according to medical studies.

This is especially true in elderly patients who experience reduced muscle tension and lowered pulse rate after watching the fish before going in for treatment.

Sure, maintaining the cleanliness of the aquarium and making sure the water is balanced for the well-being of the fish, can be hard work, in addition to making sure that they are fed regularly.

Fish can also get distressed when the water gets too hot or too cold, or if there is not enough light.

But the effort to maintain the aquarium is worth the while, especially when it brings benefits – the calming effect and a feeling of serenity that it bestows on elderly people when time hangs heavy on their hands.

A Purdue study in 2009 shows that aquariums had a good influence on the nutritional intake of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Patients exposed to the aquaria averaged an increase of 17.2 per cent in the amount of food they consumed. Weight also increased significantly, and the patients required fewer nutritional supplements.

In addition to the nutritional benefits, there was also a noticeable decrease in physically aggressive behaviors among the patients.

Feng shui advocates also say that moving water is considered beneficial in balancing “chi”, and a well maintained aquarium in the right location increases wealth and luck.

What next? Perhaps a koi pond in the open area outside the day care room, where flowering plants already abound. Seniors sitting around a koi pond may well feel refreshed as they enjoy a spot of sunshine, watching the graceful sight of swimming koi.

Ways to Prepare for Surgery

The thought of having a surgical procedure done can be daunting and you can definitely do without the additional stress. One way to ease the mind is to know what to expect and being aware of the right post-surgical care. Here we look at the various ways to prepare for surgery.

Do Your Homework

“In an ideal situation, you want to do as much research as you can,” said Sandra Le, a breast cancer survivor who underwent two mastectomies roughly a year apart. “The more people you talk to, the more you understand.”

Questions Ms. Le recommends asking your surgeon or potential surgeon include:

  • Where will the incision be, and what will it look like?
  • Is there any chance I can see pictures of surgeries you have performed so I can get an idea of what things will look like?
  • What are the possible risks associated with this surgery?
  • What will my activity restrictions be after surgery?
  • When will I be able to drive?
  • Are there any particular movements I will need to avoid and for how long?
  • What can I do to help speed up my recovery?
  • Will you walk me through the surgery so I can better understand the process?
One way to prepare for surgery is to address your concerns with your surgeon or nurse.

This last question, Ms. Le notes, is probably the most important question you can ask.

If you have time to do so, Ms. Le recommends seeking out opinions and advice from other patients who have been through the procedure you are facing.

“I scoured the Internet,” she said. “I searched through forums and review sites for any information I could find about my doctors. I also trusted in my husband’s evaluation of the surgeon. I was so blessed that my husband, Walter, is a physician because I truly felt lost the entire time. I have some understanding of medicine since I used to work as a registered nurse. However, as I faced my surgeries, I was quite emotional and could not quite grasp everything that was being discussed. If you have a friend or relative who works in the medical field and whom you feel comfortable asking to accompany you to your medical appointments, doing so can be very helpful.”

Expect the Unexpected

Even after you’ve done your research about what to expect from your surgery, remember that things don’t always go exactly as planned. Be prepared for potential complications, advised Shelley Dawn Johnson, who has had several surgeries but was caught off guard when one particular procedure did not go as expected.

“I was scheduled for what was supposed to be a very simple laparoscopic procedure,” she said. “It was an exploratory surgery with just two tiny incisions to go in and look around and try to find the source of my terribly painful periods. I hadn’t even mentioned the surgery to anyone other than my husband, since I expected to be home hours later. I’d been told this was going to be an easy, in-and-out procedure.”

Ms. Johnson had previously had two C-sections, and it turned out the source of her pain was adhesions from those surgeries.

“When my surgeon made the incision in the standard place the surgery called for, he nicked an artery,” Ms. Johnson said. “The artery wasn’t supposed to be there, but thanks to the adhesions, everything was kind of stuck together. My simple outpatient procedure turned into an open procedure to stop the internal bleeding. I woke up to the news that I had been opened up, had lost a lot of blood, would probably need to be transfused and was facing a hospital stay of at least five days.”

She hadn’t arranged for anyone to help with her two children, then just 3 and 6 years old, because she’d expected to return home the same day. And because her surgery wasn’t scheduled, there was no bed available for her on the OB/Gyn floor, so she ended up on an understaffed general post-surgical floor. The nurses there did not specialize in OB/Gyn and didn’t understand what some of her post-surgical symptoms meant, dismissing a real medical issue as anxiety.

“When you are scheduled to have surgery, you just never know what might happen,” she said. “So I think it is important to carefully discuss all possible risks of surgery with your doctor beforehand, and to prepare for the fact that any of those things could actually happen. At the same time, you still have to go in with a positive attitude and in a healthy state, mentally and spiritually. You should be prepared for the unexpected but still hope for the best possible outcome, because your attitude will affect your recovery.”

Here are some simple ways to prepare for surgeryPrepare for Your Recovery Period

Whether you are scheduled for a complex procedure or a simple one, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Le advise preparing for your recovery period and lining up help in advance. You can also follow their advice if you wish to help someone you know who is facing surgery.

  • Arrange for help with children, including driving your kids to and from school and activities.
  • Clean and de-clutter your house so it will be easier to maintain while you are on activity restriction.
  • Make freezer meals or allow someone to start a Meal Train or Sign Up Genius to allow friends and family members to sign up to bring meals for your family while you recover. (If you want to do this for a friend facing surgery, be sure to ask first to see if they are comfortable having meals brought to them, and be sure to ask about preferred drop-off times and methods as well as any food allergies or other dietary restrictions. And for those who want to offer sustenance but do not cook, be sure to share a list of favorite restaurants for which gift cards can be purchased).
  • Keep in mind that you might have dietary restriction during your immediate recovery period. Be sure to stock your kitchen with light snacks such as Jello, popsicles and other easily digestible food, including crackers, which can help with nausea.
  • Consider scheduling some sessions with a professional house cleaner. If you want to offer this as a gift to someone facing surgery, be sure to ask first if this would be a desirable gift, as some people just aren’t comfortable having strangers in their home.
  • When you come home from the hospital, keep your post-surgery instructions and doctor’s phone number by your bed. Alert your doctor immediately with any concerns.

Many people feel uncomfortable asking for help, so if you know someone facing surgery, don’t wait for them to ask you for help – just offer – even if they turn down your offer, at least they will know you are thinking of them, and sometimes simply knowing that you care and are concerned can be a wonderful gift on its own.

Not all surgeries are planned in advance. Some are emergent, but in the case of a scheduled surgery, you can take advantage of the opportunity to carefully plan and prepare for both your procedure and your recovery.

Caregiving with Purpose

Hi, my name is Christine. I’ve got to figure out my life. Maybe you can help me?

I found this website, caregiverusa.com while I was googling around for part-time nursing assistant jobs. Did I mention I got my CNA? Yeah, and I’m kinda proud of that, too. CNA stands for Certified Nurse Assistant certification. We’re also known as State Tested Nurse Aids (STNAs) here in Ohio, where I’ve lived all my life. In this state, it takes 75 hours of training – a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training – which is done through the Nurse Aid Registry, Ohio Department of Health. Here’s another helpful related website.

In CNA training, you learn about protecting patients’ rights, dealing with emergencies, identifying abuse and neglect, and how to communicate most effectively with patients, their families, and the supervising nurse. Most importantly, you are taught to pay close attention to cleanliness and sanitation, and how to make patients as comfortable as possible.

Are you like Christine? Trying to figure out your life?

Just in case you’re interested, you also need your high school diploma or GED, and to pass a complete health screening and a criminal background check.

Lastly, of course, you need to pass the Ohio CNA certification exam. There’s about 70 multiple-choice written questions, and then you need to complete five nurse aide tasks – all selected at random.

I studied hard and did great, if I do say so myself. I’m officially listed on the Ohio Nurse Aide Registry. But then it hit me, a few days after I passed the exam. “Ok, I’ve got my CNA. But now what?”

Did I mention I am so “fried” on working fast-food? I’ve done every job you can think of at a major drive-thru chain for more than eight years. I started there during junior year of high school. But I’m looking to get out of the burger biz. I am soooooo over it. Doesn’t matter that I’m actually a manager now, and making “not too bad” money. But we’re in a really busy location, it’s stressing me out, and they want me there working all the time. I can’t do all those hours.

I need to find something else, which is one of the reasons I went for my CNA. That, and I’ve always liked feeling useful and needed. I enjoy helping people, and realized the little things I did for my sickly grandma before she died – combing her hair, helping her take a bath, and put on her shoes, even just listening to her when she would talk about her years with grandpa and the “old days,” really made a difference and helped her feel better.

Caregiving could be a purpose in life

But, back to my dilemma! I’ve got my husband, Daniel, a seasonal construction worker, whose work kinda ebbs and flows. We live in our two-bedroom apartment, along with our two kids, “squirmy boy” Lucas, age 6, and precious baby girl, Mia, 22 months.

I need to be able to set a schedule that works for me, at a job that is close to home and Lucas’ school. Something where I might even be able to make more money, and have a better future than staying in fast-food.

A worthwhile job that’s not so crazy, so I have more time for my kids and keeping up with my own housework and errands. I’ve been having my mom and sisters babysit Lucas and Mia whenever Daniel and I were busy working or whatever, but I know they’re getting tired of it, and, besides, they have their own problems.

And that’s my story. I’m on this home healthcare caregiver website, wondering if I should bother exploring. What do you think?

I’m going for it.

So, I’m on the home page on my iphone, and as I scroll down, CaregiverUSA is asking me to join the mailing list. Errrrrr, I guess it’s a good idea to get updates and keep in the loop with what’s happening, since I do have my CNA after all, so I will do it. If I get too many emails or don’t like the content, I can always unsubscribe.

Now I’m clicking the box that says “Be a Caregiver” closer to the top on the home page. It takes me to a new internal web page, where it talks about CaregiverUSA and flexibility in setting your own work schedule. Mentions possibly making more money in the process. So far, so good…

Basically, it’s saying they’re strongly focused on nurturing and compassion as a caregiver organization. Good to know — I would hope so! I’m liking it’s a web-based platform that allows me to search for people meeting my criteria, such as care seekers needing my help in my area. On the flip side, they’re saying care seekers would be looking for someone like me through Web, mobile, and social media apps.

I also have my choice of providing medical care versus personal care. Personal care is non-medical in nature, such as child care, adult and senior care, home care, and pet sitting.

As a new CNA, I know I’m eligible to do some of the medical care tasks under the direction of a physician or RN, but I just want to ease into this. I’ll choose personal care first to see how it goes. It says some non-medical (personal) care services are offered by caregivers who are licensed or certified, so that’s me.

Well, I’ve come this far, so I guess I am interested enough in CaregiverUSA to fill out the caregiver application. I see it as I scroll down. Looks short, easy, and fast enough to knock out.

I input my name and email. It asks for skilled medical care positions. I select “Nursing Aide” in drop down menu. There’s another drop-down box for Custodial Care positions. I choose something easy from the git-go, just to try this out (Companion.) Moving on to Available start date, it gives me a monthly calendar. Uhmm, let’s say Monday, June 5. That should work.

Now, current employment status. I mark the dot “Employed.” However, I will definitely give notice once I figure out this caregiver gig is going to work out.

OK, next step is cut-and-pasting my resume or emailing to them. No problem.

Final question before submitting my application. Alright, the end. Hit the green submit button.

And… we’re off!

Ahhhh, gotta admit, this is kinda exciting. I mean, not “I’ve hit the lottery” exciting. It’s more like “what are the possibilities here” exciting. Could this lead to a better future and solve some of my problems? Caregiving with purpose?

You know what I mean… I’ll let you know how it goes with my next post…

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Digital Dementia: The Silent Effects of Technology

We have plenty to owe to the effects of technology. Without it, we’d probably be still sending each other messages by pigeons. However, overusing these digital devices that we’ve come to love and adore can also bring about dire consequences, which includes digital dementia.

If you’ve never heard of digital dementia or what exactly it entails, you don’t have to worry. We talked to Dr. Judy Lee from Wellness of Life Chiropractic to run you through the nitty gritty details of this growing health epidemic.

What is Digital Dementia?

The term “digital dementia” was first coined in 2012, from a book published by a German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer. He describes it as a worrying trend on “how overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities” comparing the symptoms to those of head injuries or psychiatric disorders.

What Causes Digital Dementia?

An online community dedicated to Alzheimer’s has described digital dementia as when a person develops a heavy reliance on their electronic devices. By limiting your memorizing of information with modern technology, this will hamper the development of the right side of your brain. As this houses your creative and imaginative thought processes, this will lead to mental deficiencies such as inattentiveness, short memory span, and depression.

Other than that, the American Posture Institute believes the prolonged periods of looking down on your screen will cause you to have a dominant flexor posture, where your shoulders and head are slumped forward in a C-shape. This posture will potentially lead to a cerebral dysfunction in the long term, which restricts the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain and contributing to the symptoms of digital dementia.

Who Usually Suffers from Digital Dementia?

Adults who have had too much screen time, youngsters engrossed with their entertainment system, or even children who toy around with their parents’ mobile devices are all at similar risk of developing digital dementia.

“The more time a person spends staring at an electronic screen,” Dr. Lee explained, “the higher their chance of suffering from postural distortions and nervous system imbalances in the long run.”

Many of us are unaware of digital dementia and how it comes about with the effect of technology

What Are the Early Symptoms of Digital Dementia?

Early symptoms of digital dementia include deterioration in mental capacity, including memory, concentration and attention span. Individuals may find themselves in difficulty to recall number patterns, directions or even names.

Early symptoms of digital dementia include deterioration in mental capacity, including memory, concentration and attention span. Individuals may find themselves in difficulty to recall number patterns, directions or even names.

In other cases, they might exhibit postural disorders, such as the forward head posture, where the head is passively slumped forward due to them looking down at their mobile screens for extended durations.

“These symptoms, while minor at first, can develop into something much more serious over time as they age,” Dr. Lee explained. “The progressive condition can bring about a range of degenerative mental effects, such as a lack of motivation, coordination and social seclusion.”

How to Reduce the Risk of Digital Dementia?

By significantly reducing the time spent on electronic devices, individuals can cut down on their chances of falling victim to digital dementia.

Dr. Lee also advised in delaying the introduction of technology to young children, as it will prove useful in preventing an early onset of developmental issues and cognitive decline when they grow.

“Lastly, by identifying and correcting any underlying postural disorders can help reduce the risk of digital dementia,” she added. Postural disorders include hunching, slouching or a swayed back.

Is There a Cure for Digital Dementia?

Fortunately, digital dementia isn’t something that’s permanent. However, an affected individual must adopt an active role in both prevention and control should they wish to combat the disease.

“If possible, try to visit the library to gather needed information instead of relying on the Internet,” Dr. Lee advised. “You can also pick up a few physical exercises to promote good body health and improve your blood flow.”

“Of course, there will be times that avoiding the effects of technology will be near impossible with our current work environment,” she commented. “In that case, consider taking breaks in between to stretch your legs and let your brain work a little on something else.”

However, should you feel that your condition is something that won’t be simply cured by a few lifestyle changes, Dr. Lee highly recommends visiting a chiropractor to get your posture checked.

“Postural distortions are often connected to problems with our nervous system functions, including digital dementia,” she shared. “Correcting these can be vital in improving your overall nervous system and brain health.”

The 4 Common Types of Dementia

Did you know that dementia is not one disease, but a name for many different brain diseases?

Before the late 1800s, dementia was an umbrella term for many types of unrelated mental illnesses, and there was very little medical understanding from ancient times. The haphazard developments in medical knowledge in this field are why we have many different conditions, lumped under one word. It is an unfortunate legacy, especially when combined with the social stigma and the wrongful association with natural aging.

Today, medical research endeavor to unravel the intricate web of dementia so we can have a better understanding of these diseases, in the hope of prevention and one day – a cure. Though there are many types of dementia, the most common ones are Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Disease Association.

1. Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s is a “type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, behavioral and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life”, according to Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease makes up some 50%-70% of dementia cases – there is a clear organic process of deterioration. The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events, as well as apathy and depression. As it progresses, symptoms include impaired communication, poor judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.


What are the common types of dementia?

2. Vascular dementia/ Multi-infarct dementia

Previously known as post-stroke or multi-infarct dementia, vascular dementia is caused by problems in the brain’s blood supply, often after a series of strokes or bleeding in the brain. The location, number, and size of the brain injury determine how the individual’s thinking and physical functioning are affected. The early symptoms of vascular dementia are impaired judgment or ability to make decisions, plan or organize. Memory loss is not a common initial-stage symptom in people with vascular dementia as it is in people with Alzheimer’s.

3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)

DLB is a type of “progressive dementia that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function because of abnormal microscopic deposits that damage brain cells over time”, as per Alzheimer’s Association. Medical science doesn’t know what causes DLB, but it is specific enough – there is cognitive decline and can only be confirmed by a post-mortem brain histology that shows Lewy bodies in the neurons. People with DLB often have early symptoms such as sleep disturbances, well-formed visual hallucinations, slowness, gait imbalance or other parkinsonian movement traits. Memory loss and thinking problems are also common symptoms in DLB as it is in Alzheimer’s.

4. Parkinson’s disease dementia/ Mixed Dementia

Alzheimer’s Association explains Parkinson’s disease dementia as an “impairment in thinking and reasoning that begins in a region that plays a key role in movement”. Changes in the brain gradually spread and initially affect mental functions, including memory and the ability to pay attention, make sound judgments and plan the steps needed to complete a task. An estimated 50 to 80 percent of those with Parkinson’s eventually experience dementia as their disease progresses, according to Alzheimer’s Association. The average time from onset of Parkinson’s to developing dementia is about 10 years. If dementia develops, symptoms are often similar to dementia with Lewy bodies.

Mentioned above are only some of the common types of dementia, and up-to-date there are over nine types discovered. As different types of dementia can have similar overlapping symptoms, it may be difficult to diagnose dementia just by the symptoms alone. Take note of the signs and early symptoms of dementia. People with deterioration in cognition and personality should seek medical help upon the onset of symptoms. Alzheimer’s Disease Association offers help through programs and support services for patients and their families.

Where Should You or Your Loved Ones Live Out the Golden Years?

It is often said that home is where the heart is, but how do you decide where home should be as you or your loved ones age and health decline? Whether you are facing the decision personally or helping an aging parent decide where to live out the golden years, there are many factors to consider. This article will review the key issues that must be addressed when making this decision and also look at how to find resources to support your decision.

First let’s take a look at your main options: independent living/remaining in one’s own home, living with family, or moving into a nursing care facility or assisted living facility.

Independent Living/Remaining in One’s Own Home

This simply means continuing to live in your own residence or perhaps downsizing to a smaller, easier to care for dwelling, but enlisting minimal help, if any at all.

Living with Family

As they age, some people choose to move in with family members who can help care for them, or to have family move in with them.

Nursing Care/Long-term Care Facility

The care provided in a nursing home/long-term care facility care can vary and is usually most appropriate for someone whose needs exceed those that can be met by family and/or community supports.

“Often this is someone who has significant medical issues that need to be monitored and managed frequently by skilled nursing,” said Erin Frankenfield, a social worker with the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA). “Or, this might be someone who has significant memory impairment and requires special programming and supervision to ensure their safety is met, as well as activities tailored to their cognitive capacity. Nursing homes have some private rooms available, but those are more costly. Usually, you have a semi-private room that you share with someone else. Medicaid will only pay for a semi-private room.”

Assisted Living Facility

“An assisted living facility can be an appropriate choice for someone who can live in their own private room,” Ms. Frankenfield explained. “However, there are some facilities that are specific to memory care and severe dementia patients. Also, assisted living has regular nursing care but not as intensive as that provided in a nursing facility. Assisted living facilities often provide meals, homemaking and a living space that is more ‘homey’ rather than ‘medical’ (like you would find in a nursing facility). Often, assisted living facilities will be more selective about accepting patients with extensive medical issues, partly due to the capacity of the facility to safely and adequately care for the multiple health complications of someone who has several and severe health issues.”

Where should you or your loved ones live out the golden years?

Making a Decision

Determining where you or a loved one should live in the autumn of life is a big decision and should not be made lightly.

“When figuring out how to choose the appropriate care setting for someone, it’s important to first determine how much assistance someone requires to complete their activities of daily living (ADLs),” Ms. Frankenfield said.

These include:

  • Managing medication
  • Handling environmental tasks such as shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning
  • Heavy chores
  • Yard work
  • Home maintenance
  • Bathing, dressing, grooming
  • Toileting
  • Mobility – getting in and out of the shower/bath, up/down the stairs, in/out of bed, ambulation – getting from point A to point B
  • Making phone calls
  • Driving or arranging transportation
  • Managing finances/legal matters

“It is also important to consider whether there are any memory deficits or ongoing issues with confusion,” Ms. Frankenfield said. “For example, are they forgetful about whether or not they have eaten or taken their medication? When they leave the home alone, do they get lost? Do they get out of bed in the middle of the night and wander?”

After taking an honest and thorough look at how much help someone requires, next, it’s important to determine if there are enough family and/or community supports to sustain that person either in their environment or in a family member’s home.

“There are options for living in the community with assistance,” Ms. Frankenfield said. “There are private pay home health companies that supply trained personal care aides to assist with ADL tasks, cleaning and running errands. Paying privately for care in the home can be costly, and choosing a company is difficult as there are a lot of companies out there. The cost of private paying for a personal care aide can range, and most companies would like someone to commit to a block of time versus an hour.”

For those who opt to remain in their own home or live with a relative, many communities provide a plethora of senior services, which could include home-delivered meals, a homemaker and/or personal care aide, emergency response pendant, assistance with obtaining durable medical equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, grab bars, shower chairs, etc.

“In Columbus, Ohio, for example,” Ms. Frankenfield said, “there is a program called Senior Options, or for someone who requires a lot of assistance with personal care and is Medicaid eligible, there’s a program called PASSPORT managed through the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging. These two programs are designed to assist people who meet certain income guidelines and who require a certain level of assistance, so they can live in the community setting with supports. COAAA also offers a lot of other resources and assistance with information about long term care, and they are always available to take calls for such information.”

To find resources in your own community, try Google searching for “resources for seniors” in your city or state, or visit the Administration for Community Living website.

“Living in the community can also be enhanced by using an adult day program,” Ms. Frankenfield said. “Usually, they provide transportation. These type of programs are convenient for a working family that needs to have their older adult family member in a safe environment during the day while the working members of the family are not able to be home with them.”

Assisted living has regular nursing care but not as intensive as that provided in a nursing facility.

To find information on adult day programs, residents in Central Ohio can contact the COAAA. In other areas, you can conduct a Google search for your city and state plus “adult day programs.”

National Church Residences also has several programs in Columbus and throughout the United States.

Funding the Care Scenario of Your Choice

Whether you and your family choose care at home or in a facility, there will be a significant cost involved.

“Older adults and their families need to look honestly at what they can afford as far as time and money to safely and reliably support the care needs of the family member concerned,” Ms. Frankenfield said. “The cost of private pay for a nursing facility or assisted living is very expensive, and both the cost and quality of the facilities range widely. There is a useful link on the Medicare.gov website: ‘Find Nursing Homes.’ It links to different nursing facilities, including their ratings and is a good place to do research.”

There are four different sources for funding a stay in a nursing facility or assisted living facility. These are:

1) Private pay

2) Long-term care insurance

3) Medicaid

4) Veterans’ benefits

“Medicaid is state-funded insurance, and eligibility is based on income and assets,” Ms. Frankenfield explained. “If someone has several assets and would like to explore qualifying for Medicaid, they could consult an elder law attorney for assistance in determining how or if these assets could be protected.”

Regardless of the decision you make, it should not be arrived at lightly. Take your time to really consider all of the key issues and research your options so you can make the best decisions for you and your loved ones.