Posts Tagged ‘caregivers’

Caregiver Stories

Friday, November 16th, 2018

As November rolls along we continue to celebrate National Caregivers Month. With Thanksgiving only a week away, we know many people are preparing for gatherings of friends and family (both biological and “found”). We hope the holiday will be an enjoyable celebration filled with love and community, but we also recognize that the day will be difficult for many, not the least of whom are our caregivers.          

Thanksgiving is often a time of gathering and telling stories as we give our thanks for the good things in our lives. In honor of this tradition and our caregivers we’d like to share the stories of some New Jersey caregivers. Thank you caregivers for all you do.


Photo provided by Pixabay via Pexels.com

Photo provided by Pixabay via Pexels.com

Some of our caregivers talked about their gratitude for being able to return the care that had been given to them over the years…  

“In my mom’s last years, she was living alone in her apartment at Seabrook Village. Her skin had become very thin, and she was prone to injuries that became much more major than for a younger person. On several occasions she injured a leg, producing large areas where her skin was largely rubbed away, in one case requiring a skin graft.  In addition to helping her with hospital and doctor visits, I came over to her home daily during one period to help clean wounds and change the dressing. As the geographically closest one of my siblings these duties fell to me, and I regarded it as an honor to be able to give back to someone who had given me so much.” –Tinton Falls

 

One caregiver wrote about the bonding moments that occur during caregiving…

“Two weeks ago, one of my Mom’s high school friends passed away. Mom wanted to go to the viewing and pay her respects. Since Mom had her shoulder surgery, she can only drive short distances, but this ride was going to take the better part of the day, so her driving wasn’t possible. Instead, I picked Mom up at the retirement complex where she and Dad live. We then drove back to New Jersey and up Route 1 to the Funeral Home. Mom is an accomplished map reader so she was an able co-pilot for this part of the trip.

This was a very difficult day for Mom emotionally. Marge was her last living high school buddy. During our ride, we talked about Mom’s memories of high school, Marge’s family, and Marge’s visits to my Grandparents’ home. When we got to the funeral home, we were greeted by Marge’s daughter, Nancy and son, John. It was comforting to meet and speak to them about their mother. Mom got the chance to bid farewell to her friend and we spent some time looking over the many photos of Marge and her family. It was helpful for Mom to see all these pictures, because she hadn’t seen Marge in many years—they simply spoke on the phone. The ride home was peaceful. We talked about how welcome Nancy and John made us feel and what a lovely family Marge had.

Mostly, this was an unexpected day for bonding with Mom. Marge was from our hometown. The funeral home has seen our family on numerous occasions for the mourning of relatives and friends who have passed away. As stressful and annoying as the driving was that day, I know how much it meant to my Mom and I wanted to do it for her.” –Lawrenceville

 

Photo by Noelle Otto, via Pexels.com

Photo by Noelle Otto, via Pexels.com

Some caregivers told us about the challenges of watching parents grow older and increasing caregiving duties…

“Nearly every Thursday for the past several years I have been visiting my Mom and Dad in Pennsylvania. Dad just turned 90. Mom will be 88 in a few days. Eighteen months ago, Dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer. His treatment lasted for 6 weeks and I accompanied him for each office visit and the follow-up appointments with the doctor. Thankfully, the treatments were successful and Dad is cancer-free. Mom had shoulder replacement 12 months ago. I stayed with Mom and Dad after the surgery for a short while to ensure that Mom was able to get around on her own. As with Dad, I went to follow-up visits with Mom and she has recovered most of the use of her left arm. Often times, I take my Mom (and sometimes Dad) shopping and we run errands in the neighborhood. What has become more difficult, is watching how each of them is declining in what they can or can’t do and what they remember or don’t recall.” –Lawrenceville

 

 

Photo by Matthias Zomer, via Pexels.com

Photo by Matthias Zomer, via Pexels.com

Others talked about watching their own parents become caregivers for each other, both the trials and the lessons learned…

“I am in awe watching my almost-92 year old mother caring for my Alzheimer’s stricken father. It is not only about the patience, compassion and love she extends him, but even about the occasional short-temper and impatience. She extends herself about as far as she can and forgives herself, mostly, when she comes up short of her goals.

And she not only takes care of him, but to the extent she can of herself: she has arranged for volunteers and paid aides and relatives to help her and gets herself out, whether it’s to attend meetings or just get errands done, in order to maintain her mental and emotional equilibrium. I do think that extending his care to others is not only a necessity for her, but even a boon and blessing to them in the sense of affirming our humanity—that we are all in this together and that extending care and caring to others is a fundamental way of sharing that.

I know their current situation of my mom providing continued care in their home cannot last much longer, and has only been possible thus far because another daughter lives with them. And her children are all concerned about the effects of months of sleep deprivation and the curtailing of her activities (as well as watching your partner of 70+ years deteriorate in this horrible way), but she has managed so far with fortitude, help, a fair amount of grace, and a great deal of love.” –Central New Jersey, with parents in California


Ultimately, caregiving is one of the most selfless and loving acts a human being can perform for another. It is a life-changing experience, and it can be rewarding, painful, hopeful, and challenging. According to Pew Research Center, approximately 25% of Americans aged 45-64, and 17% of 65+ aged adults, are caring for an older adult. Whether you are a caregiver or anticipate becoming one in the future, caregiving dramatically affects the lives of everyone involved. As our nation and state continue to experience the “Graying of America,” we can expect the numbers of caregivers to rise alongside those who need care. So we recognize and thank you, caregivers, for all you’ve done and all you continue to do. Happy National Caregivers Month to you, and thank you to our caregivers who were so willing to share their stories with us.

Who is a Caregiver?

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

As we welcome November we also welcome National Caregivers Month. But, while it can be easy to recognize the month, it’s not always easy to recognize a caregiver. Caregivers range from the professional and paid to full-time non-professional caregivers to informal caregiving on a part-time basis. According to the Mayo Clinic, “About 1 in 3 adults in the United States provides care to other adults as informal caregivers.” Given the numbers, it’s almost certain you personally know someone who is a caregiver.

Provided by rawpixel.com via pexels.comBut who is a caregiver? A caregiver is anyone who provides help to someone in need. Anyone can be a caregiver, and caregiving is widely prevalent. Caregivers are diverse and consist of a wide range of ages, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, ethnic identities, locations, and caregiving arrangements. Despite how many people are caregiving, many don’t identify as “caregivers” because of their idea of what a caregiver is or isn’t. As a result, it’s important for us to recognize that not all caregiving looks the same. For instance, one caregiver might provide near-24 hour care, but another caregiver might drop off groceries once a week or organize medication; one caregiver might need to live with the person who needs help, but another caregiver might be providing help remotely from across the state or across the country.

As we continue to experience the “graying of America,” and our life expectancy rises, it’s likely many of us will become caregivers at one point or another. Being a caregiver is no easy task. While incredibly rewarding, caregiving is also often emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially taxing. Caregivers have been shown to be significantly more at risk for illness, depression, and other health conditions associated with prolonged exposure to stress. If you’re a caregiver it’s vital to take time to care for yourself.

Provided by rawpixel.com via pexels.com

We want to celebrate caregivers and all they do. Caregivers are often the frontline advocate for their loved ones, working tirelessly to make sure the person(s) in their care is receiving all they need despite the impact on their own lives. We also want to remind caregivers to take care of themselves (see our “5 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers,” below). Being a caregiver can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but also one of the most exhausting times in a person’s life. Thank you to all of our caregivers, it’s your efforts that change the lives of so many and help so many live longer, richer lives in their community.

 

5 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Here are 5 vital ways for caregivers to practice self-care to rest, recharge, and revitalize!

  1. Take breaks every day—try a 5-minute meditation or any other practice that helps you de-stress
  2. Join a support group—in person or online.
  3. Do some self-massage to relieve accumulated tension
  4. Get enough: Water, Nutrition, Exercise, and Rest (caregivers often report a poorer diet and lack of adequate exercise and sleep)
  5. Know when to ask for help—watch out for signs of burnout and escalating health concerns; know when you need to ask for additional help from family or friends, or when outside agencies need to step in

Do you have a story about your caregiving experience you’d like to share? NJFA will be sharing stories in caregiving later this month for our 2nd blog on National Caregivers Month. To share your story, simply leave a comment on this blog or any of our social media pages, or email Communications Manager Mason Crane-Bolton at [email protected]

Provided by Pixaby via pexels.com

The New Medicare Cards

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The New Medicare Cards

By Charles Clarkson, Project Director, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey

In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of the social security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. This new initiative is referred to as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI.) A new randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the social security number. When the initiative gets underway all Medicare beneficiaries will be assigned a new MBI and be sent a new Medicare card.

The primary goal of the initiative is to decrease Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the social security number from their Medicare cards and replacing it with a new Medicare MBI which does not contain any other personal information.

The new MBI will have the following characteristics:

i. The same number of characters as the current Medicare number, but will be visibly distinguishable from the Medicare number

ii. Contain uppercase alphabetic and numeric characters throughout the new MBI

iii. For providers, the new MBI will occupy the same field as the Medicare number on transactions

iv. Be unique to each beneficiary (e.g. husband and wife will have their own MBI)

v. Be easy to read and limit the possibility of letters being interpreted as numbers (e.g. alphabetic characters are upper case only and will exclude S, L, O, I, B, Z)

vi. Not contain any embedded intelligence or special characters

vii. Not contain inappropriate combinations of numbers or strings that may be offensive

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees Medicare, has established a transition period during which the Medicare number or MBI will be accepted from providers, beneficiaries, plans, and others. CMS expects the transition period to run from April 2018 through December 31, 2019. After the transition period only the MBI will be used.

Starting around April 2018, CMS will start mailing new Medicare cards. There are approximately 60 million beneficiaries in Medicare. So, CMS will probably mail the cards in phases over a period of time. Remember, as a beneficiary you can still use your current Medicare number during the transition period if it takes awhile to receive your new Medicare card. If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018 and Medicare has started issuing the new cards, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI. Therefore, healthcare providers must be able accept the new MBIs by April 2018.

Fraud and the new Medicare cards.

The Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey (SMP) wants all Medicare beneficiaries to be aware of possible fraud and scams relating to the new Medicare cards. Remember, CMS and Medicare will never contact you by phone or email to ask for personal information relating to the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Any such contact is a scam. Don’t be taken in. Also, there will be no charge for the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Anyone seeking to have a beneficiary pay money for the new card is a scammer. Be especially careful of anyone seeking to have access to your checking account to pay any fee for the new card. Beneficiaries are especially vulnerable if they are isolated, frail or may have cognitive loss. Caregivers should be on the alert for these kinds of scams. The SMP is currently educating beneficiaries at its outreach events of the issuance of the new Medicare cards. CMS will also be conducting intensive education and outreach to beneficiaries to help them prepare for this change.

The issuance of the new Medicare card is a significant change. If a beneficiary or caregiver has any questions about the SSNRI, please don’t hesitate to call the SMP at 1-877-SMP-4359 (1-877-767-4359) or 732-777-1940. A beneficiary or caregiver can also email me at [email protected].

Did you know? Family Leave Insurance

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Did you know? Family Leave Insurance

Imagine this scenario- your mom lives alone and has a hip replacement. Who is going to help her while she recovers? Chances are you’ll have to take time off of work to do so. But there may be some help available to ease your financial concerns.

NJ passed the Paid Family Leave Act in 2008 to help family caregivers with caring for a seriously ill family member or a new born.  In 2011, 4,587 people received benefits from this program for caring for a spouse or other family members.  This represents about 20% of the claims while the balance of 80% are related to bonding with a child or care of a sick child. The average length of care was 4 weeks and the estimated benefit was about $1,800.

This support comes from the employee’s payroll disability withholdings.  You have already set this money aside to address a future need like taking care of a sick child, spouse or parent. There are forms to complete and information to get, but so many people are caregivers and temporary leave their jobs this modest amount of support can give a caregiver some peace of mind- while they do the yeoman’s job of providing care for a loved one.

So, how does it work?

You can claim Family Leave Insurance benefits to care for a family member with a serious health condition. There is a very comprehensive application which will also necessitate a health care provider certifying the condition. You will see a link below to get the form online.

Care leave may be taken for six consecutive weeks, intermittent weeks or 42 intermittent days during a 12 month period beginning with the first date of the family leave insurance claim.

Family member means your spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent or child.

The child must be your biological or adopted child, foster child, stepchild, legal ward or the child of your domestic or civil union partner. The child must be less than 19 years old or if older than 19 years of age must be incapable of self-care because of mental or physical impairment.

You must give your employer reasonable advance notice unless:

  • You need to take family leave unexpectedly or
  • The time of the family leave changes for reasons you could not    foresee.

 If you claim family leave benefits intermittently, you must give your employer 15 days notice.

You may access the application by going to http://lwd.state.nj.us/labor/forms_pdfs/tdi/fl1.pdf

Other important contacts:

Division of Temporary Disability Insurance Customer Service Section (609) 292-7060.

Hearing impaired individuals may contact our office by: Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD)-(609) 292-8319, New Jersey Relay Service: TT user 1-800-852-7899, Voice User: 1-800-852-7897

Important: Please allow fourteen (14) days processing time before inquiring about your claim.

Division of Temporary Disability Insurance FAX number: (609) 984-4138

For additional information about the Family Leave Insurance Program, visit at:

www.nj.gov/labor

To get additional help or information you may contact the NJ Time to Care Coalition by going to their website or calling their toll free number.  http://www.njtimetocare.com  or 1888-NJ GET WELL, 1-888-654-3893

Tips for Caregivers

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Tips for Caregivers

A critical part an older adult remaining in the community is support from family and friends. Some of that support comes in the form of a family caregiver. We know that many sons, daughter, grandchildren, nieces/nephews or siblings are taking on the role of a caregiver to a loved one.

A recent report from AARP about the value of caregivers states that in 2009 42 million Americans provided care to an older adult family member with limited daily abilities. Furthermore, they found that 65% of those caregivers were female and many worked a job in addition to providing care. The report also states that the typical caregivers provides approximately 20 hours a week of unpaid care.

While, caregiving is a job and does require the caregiver to make sacrifices, many report that they appreciate the relationship between themselves and the care recipient. Providing care for a loved one can be a rewarding activity, even if it is challenging at times. Some say the bond they make with the care recipient enhances their life, such as a daughter caring for her mother may bring them closer and allow them to share thoughts and feelings that they did not before.

The relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient can become stressful, in most cases the family member is providing care that may be uncomfortable for one or both parties. Not to mention, the older adult care recipient may also be having difficulty with the change in their abilities and routine. Parents may be reluctant to share financial or personal information with children, which could make assisting with bill paying difficult.

Not only are there aspects of caregiving that stressful, but also time consuming. Tasks such as shopping, food preparation, laundry, transportation and physical care for another individual leaves little time to care for oneself.

There are of course many resources available, below are some tips we’ve found that may be helpful, as well as a list of resources.

Tips:

  1. Ask questions. To avoid an argument with the care recipient, make sure you ask specific questions about situations or decisions that need to be made. Ask their advice before making a decision for them, perhaps it is something they’ve already thought about or made arrangements for.
  2. Organize documents. Keeping important documents all in one place is a practical strategy. Create categories like personal, medical, financial, and keep them all in a binder or file. Also, keeping a list of medications and doctors can be helpful too.
  3. Take time for yourself. Utilize other family members, neighbors or local community services to provide care so you can take a break. Caregivers should not feel guilty about needing a break, taking an exercise class, reading a book or just taking care of you is necessary to assure you are taking good care of your loved one.
  4. Take advantage of local services. Contact the Eldercare Locator, a service offered by the US Administration on Aging, which helps people find services for older adults. There you can find adult day centers, rehab and nursing services in your own town, as well as, your county and municipal aging programs.

A list of County Office on Aging can be found at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html

To find a Senior Center in your area visit:

http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/seniorcenter/scSearch.aspx

To get more information from NJ Division of Aging and Community Services visit http://www.nj.gov/health/senior/index.shtml or call 1-800-792-8820.

Eldercare Locator:             http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.NET/Public/index.aspx

NJ’s Budget Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

May 26, 2010

New Jersey’s budget is in the midst of a heated debate. Governor Chris Christie has proposed the new budget and made many cuts. There have been many groups affected by the cuts that have reacted with press releases, meetings and rallies. NJFA and its partners have done much research and speaking out about the impact on our most vulnerable populations, including seniors.

Some of the proposed cuts included PAAD, NJ’s prescription drug assistance program, seniors would have been forced to pay a $310 deductible and face a co pay increase for brand name drugs from $7 to $15. Thanks to the efforts of many groups, the message of the impact of these cuts got to the legislators and they were successful in getting Gov. Christie to remove those cuts from the budget and keep the PAAD program the way it had been.

While that victory feels pretty good there are still many issues regarding the budget and seniors. The Senior Freeze program, a property tax reimbursement program, will not be given out in 2011, that is approximately $1,000 that many low to middle income seniors rely on to help make ends meet. Another item in the proposed budget that will affect the low income senior in NJ is the addition of a $5 co pay for medical day care services with a monthly cap of $25 and the elimination of medication administration as a criteria for medical day care attendance. Many caregivers rely on medical day care as part of a senior or disabled persons care plan, this will be a hardship for those who need it most.

A decrease in the provider reimbursement rate for the PCA program, a home care program that services 29,000 disabled persons and seniors, has been a hot topic in regard to Gov. Christie’s budget. The cut, which decreases the rate by approximately $2, has been the subject of budget hearing testimony due to the fact that this will cause many providers to withdraw from this vital service, leaving many clients in need without services.

With the Elder Index NJFA highlighted an issue regarding some of our most vulnerable seniors and that is the NJ SSI State Supplement which is just $31 a month and has been since 1986, a payment that is meant to help disabled persons make ends meet on a fixed income and just doesn’t cut it at that level. Recently a budget item has come to our attention that is equally troubling, the spousal supplement for caregivers of disabled persons is due to be eliminated in the proposed budget. Again, many of the cuts in this budget are affecting seniors, the disabled and their caregivers, many of whom are already living on the edge.

NJFA and many of our partner organizations have put out press releases, op eds and fact sheets, sending them to newspapers, legislators and community groups, hoping to get the word out about the proposed budget cuts and their impact on seniors. NJFA encourages everyone to contact their representatives in the legislature to make their voice heard.

You can find contact information for your local representatives at www.njleg.org

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