Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 5 Best Gifts for Family Caregivers

DailyCaring once again offers a timely article on caring for those very special people - our hardworking caregivers. What gifts will your caregivers most appreciate?

Send this to your family and friends
Nobody deserves a nice gift more than hardworking family caregivers like yourself. Sometimes you need to give people some hints so you can get gifts you’ll really enjoy and appreciate.

Here are the top 5 gifts family caregivers truly want. Don’t be shy! Send this to your family and friends. You can even add a note saying which of these are at the very top of your own wish list.

Caregiver Gift #1 - Time off!
Family caregivers are in desperate need of a break. Family and friends can offer to provide care or supervision for a day, overnight, the weekend, or even a whole week so the caregiver can get away! Even a few hours would be great! Better yet, if multiple people can gift respite hours, the caregiver can get regular breaks over several weeks or months.

Tip: Schedule these “gifts of rest” in advance so everyone can prepare for successful care transitions and the family caregiver gets a nice, worry-free break.

Caregiver Gift #2 - A great massage
Getting a massage is great for reducing stress and easing aches and pains. There are many other great physical benefits too. A massage gift certificate is a great gift for any family caregiver.

Caregiver Gift #3 - Cleaning services
Cleaning the house is a big chore for busy family caregivers. That’s why house cleaning services make a great gift. Whether it’s a one time cleaning session or a generous monthly cleaning subscription, having a clean house makes people happier and crosses a time-consuming chore off the to-do list.

This is a great DIY gift for those with limited budgets. Offer to vacuum, mop floors, clean bathrooms, wash dishes, or organize the garage! You could also organize a family and friends cleaning brigade to regularly help with house cleaning chores.

Caregiver Gift #4 - Delicious meals
After a long day of work or caring for an older adult, the last thing on most family caregivers’ minds is cooking. Why not give the gift of already prepared, healthy meals? Whether you give a meal delivery service subscription or stock their freezer full of home-cooked casseroles, the gift of delicious food will always be appreciated.

Caregiver Gift #5 - Personal care and pampering
Everyone likes to feel pampered and well-groomed. Since caregivers don’t get much time for themselves, they’ll be sure to appreciate gift certificates for haircuts, manicures, or pedicures. You can even add to the gift by offering to care for their older adult while they’re out getting pampered.

DailyCaring.com helps families who are caring for older adults. Get practical tips from the “Reader’s Digest” of caregiving and aging. Our free email newsletter makes sure you don’t miss a thing. Find answers to day-to-day challenges by visiting www.DailyCaring.com today!

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Thursday, December 11, 2014

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Nanny (or Caregiver)

The CareLinx Team recommends reading Kathleen Webb's "7 Mistakes" article before seeking a caregiver for a loved one of any age. 

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Nanny
By Kathleen Webb, Tuesday, December 9, 2014 09:14 AM
Latest Updates from HomeWork Solutions Inc.
New parents often envision that hiring a nanny will be the magic bullet that solves their childcare challenges. Hiring the nanny itself, however, is an activity fraught with worry, stress, and the fear of actually hiring the wrong nanny. Here we offer parents a short list of common mistakes families make when hiring a nanny, and tips to avoid them. Let HWS help you make your experience hiring a nanny simpler and worry free.
1. Job description? What nanny job description?
When hiring a nanny, the nanny is looking to understand the scope of duties you expect. No two nanny jobs are the same, and not all nanny applicants have the skills or interest to properly address what your family expects. 
Take the time to brainstorm and write up a basic nanny job description that meets your family's needs. Consider breaking this up into three basic categories: childcare, family support, and housework. As you might imagine, most applicants for a nanny job are primarily focused on childcare, while you may be looking holistically at the full range of duties you want or need for your family's wellbeing. 
2. Unrealistic expectations, particularly surrounding housework...
A nanny's primary duties should always revolve around childcare. It is not unreasonable to expect a nanny to leave her work environment (your home) in the condition in which she found it. Many nannies expect, and don't mind, engaging in household upkeep in the areas used by the nanny and your child. Sweeping or mopping up the kitchen after meals in the high chair, vacuuming up after a craft activity, laundering the child's clothes and wiping down cabinets and doors are generally part of the nanny's expected scope of duties. Full charge housekeeping, including changing linens, dusting and vacuuming the entire home, and picking up after the other adults in the home is not typical. Adding these tasks to the nanny's job description both limits the candidates who are interested in the position, and can focus the nanny more on the care of your home than on the care and development of your child. 
3. Pay offered is out of step with the local market.
Hiring a nanny is expensive. A full time nanny is working to support herself, including the cost of her housing, transportation and food.  If you offer below market compensation you not only make it harder to staff the position, but you will be frustrated by frequent turnover as the nanny leaves for a better paying position. If the local market wage is outside your budget, you may consider a nanny share.
4. Unwilling to pay legally.
A nanny becomes your employee, and as an employer you have legal obligations for payroll taxes and insurance. Before hiring a nanny, do some research to understand your obligations and the costs involved. Our free Household Employer's Payroll Tax Guide is a great place to start. If you would like to chat with a real person, HWS' household payroll and employment tax specialists are available at800.626.4829 for a free telephone consultation.
5. Hiring a Nanny without a Written Work Agreement
A well crafted nanny work agreement will spell out all the terms and conditions of the employment relationship, including hours, duties, benefits, and compensation. When one fails to get the details down in writing, conflict over differing memories of what was promised is inevitable. Learn more about hiring a nanny with a work agreement
6. Interviews that Fail to Probe Adequately
When hiring a nanny, behavioral interviewing is the gold standard.  Behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that the most accurate predictor of a nanny's future performance is the nanny's past performance in a similar situation. You conduct the behavioral interview AFTER confirmation of job basics such as schedule, general duties and skills required, salary range offered, and candidate availability.
Unlike traditional interviews, which request information such as prior child care jobs or ages of children previously cared for, behavioral interviewing emphasizes past performance and behaviors. Agencies that employ behavioral interviewing have predetermined the skill sets they believe are vital to success in the nanny position.
7. Inadequate Background Screening
When hiring a nanny, a family has to perform careful screening. This not only thorough interviewing, but also includes reference checking and a criminal background check.

References should be verified in much the same way as the nanny is interviewed. Do verify the basics - dates of employment, number of children cared for, and the reason for separation. Additionally, ask open ended questions, and listen for the response. Inquire about the scope of the nanny's responsibilities, ask the former employer what the candidate's strengths and weaknesses are, and ask about specifics that matter to you.
Do order a thorough pre-employment background check. A clean background check simply means that the candidate has never been caught and convicted of anything. It is important, don't skip this, but do rely more heavily on the interview and references for the decision making. 
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Household Employers: A Conversation on the Affordable Care Act

The following is an excellent summary of the Affordable Care Act and what employers of home caregivers need to know. It is posted with permission from Kathleen Webb, President and co-founder of Homework Solutions, an authority on household payroll and taxes - also known as the "Nanny Taxes." 
Household Employers: A Conversation on the Affordable Care Act
By Kathleen Webb, Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:35:00 GMT
Latest Updates from HomeWork Solutions Inc.

Many clients and their household employees have questions about their responsibilities and opportunities related to health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. We hope that the following FAQ will help clear up some confusion.

What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” is federal legislation that is a major overhaul of the US health care system intended to both reduce the cost of health care and dramatically increase the number of insured in the United States.
I am a household employer. Do I have to provide health insurance to my household employees?
No, employers with fewer than 50 employees do not have to provide health insurance to their employees. Your obligation is to provide your employees annually the appropriate notice of your intent and information about the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Does my household employee have to obtain health insurance?
Yes, all Americans, including household employees, are required to obtain health insurance or face fines collected on their individual income tax return.
Where does my employee go to purchase health insurance?
The Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov is the federal government-run health insurance exchange where individuals can compare different plans and purchase health insurance. Your household employee may also shop certain state-run health insurance exchanges, or shop directly with insurance companies and other insurance websites.
Open enrollment for 2015 runs November 15, 2014 - February 15, 2015.
Are there tax advantages for me if I contribute to my household employee’s health insurance policy?
Absolutely, our tax code has encouraged and rewarded employer contributions to employee health insurance for decades and to a limited extent household employers participate in tax advantages.
CREDIT FOR SMALL EMPLOYER HEALTH INSURANCE: When you set up a health insurance policy for your household employee through the SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) on the Health Insurance Marketplace you may claim a credit of up to 50% of the contribution you pay. To qualify:
  1. You must pay at least 50% of your household employee’s health insurance premiums;
  2. Purchase the health insurance through the SHOP either on your own or working with your insurance agent;
  3. Complete Form 8941 and include with your personal income tax return.
We understand that many household employers are confused about their options with the Affordable Care Act. Please don’t hesitate to call HWS weekdays 8:30 – 7 PM EST and we will be happy to talk you through this.
Tax rules and regulations surrounding the health insurance industry are in a period of rapid change. HWS provides this information as a courtesy to help you understand payroll tax changes resulting from the ACA.  This is not be construed as specific tax or legal advice. Guidance relative to the ACA / Obamacare is subject to revision and this may not be the most current information available.

Affordable Care Act Resources:

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

#1 Mistake Made By Alzheimer's Caregivers

"Be Prepared" is the Girl Scout motto (or at least it used to be!)  Today's DailyCaring editorial is a handy guideline to sharing with family and friends in order to prepare them for a visit with someone who has Alzheimer's or dementia. This is another timely set of tips for the holiday season.

#1 Mistake Made By Alzheimer's Caregivers

Don’t try to fix them
The most common mistake you can make when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is to try to bring them back into your reality or remind them of the truth.

Your intentions are good. You think you can help your older adult get back to normal if you remind them about things or explain what’s real. But the reality is, getting back to normal just isn’t going to happen no matter how hard you try.

Having Alzheimer’s or dementia is a scary and confusing experience for your older adult. Using logic and reason to explain why you're right and they're wrong will only cause them to get more confused, agitated, defensive, and act out with difficult behavior.

Tips on how to respond
So, how can you help prevent your older adult from getting more upset or behaving in difficult ways? Here are some tips we learned from an expert Alzheimer’s support group leader.

      Respond with logic and reason
      Pay strict attention to their words - they may not actually mean what they say
      Keep trying to convince them to see or do things your way
      Say “Don’t you remember?”
      Say “No, you’re wrong.”
      Say “Don’t do that.”
      Tell them that people they’re talking about or waiting to see are already deceased

      Respond to the emotion or intention behind the words
      Distract them with an activity they enjoy
      Redirect the conversation to a pleasant, positive, or neutral topic
      Use therapeutic fibbing - agree with things that aren’t true or bend the truth in harmless ways if it calms the situation
      Without words, find ways to assure them that they’re safe and cared for - hugs or gentle touching often works well

Don’t be discouraged if your attempts to soothe or redirect don’t work every time! This is a skill that improves with practice. In time, you’ll figure out what works best for your senior.

Why this approach works better
When you pay attention to the situation and emotions rather than the words, it helps you uncover your senior’s true needs. Instead of arguing, shift the mood to something more calm and positive. You’ll thank yourself when you don’t have to get into the same screaming match for the 38th time.

DailyCaring.com supports families caring for older adults. Every day, get new tips and resources about caregiving and aging. Join our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date. Find out how to improve your care situation by visiting www.DailyCaring.com today!

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Flu and Stress: What’s the Connection?

In October, Team CareLinx provided readers a handy "Timely Tips for Flu Season." Today's guest editorial by Daily Caring is also timely, given the approaching holidays:

Flu and Stress: What’s the Connection?

Stress and flu are definitely connected
You may think that getting the flu is just the luck of the draw, but your chances of getting sick are actually connected with how stressed you are. We all know that family caregivers are some of the most stressed people in the world. Being pulled in every direction and never having enough hours in the day will do that to you!

Why does being stressed mean you’ll get the flu?
When you’re under stress, your body has a fight or flight reaction. Your body makes it a priority to fuel the body parts that help you escape or deal with the stressful situation.

For example, you’ve suddenly run out of adult diapers. You have to go to the store and back right now, but that will make you late for work. But you don’t have a choice, so you rush off the the store in a panic and feeling extra stressed because of the last minute rush and because of what your boss will say when you show up late again.

In that example, your body is giving energy to the parts of you that are actively getting you through that situation. That means there’s not much energy being used to keep your immune system strong. When these stressful situations happen frequently, your body is almost constantly in fight or flight mode!

When your immune system is at reduced strength, it’s easy for viruses to slip past your natural defenses and infect you with the flu. It’s even worse during flu season because the flu virus and other germs are everywhere.

De-stress to avoid the flu
To keep yourself healthy and avoid getting the flu this year, work on reducing stress in your life. Don’t worry, you don’t have to overhaul your life and make it picture perfect. A few small changes make a huge difference in your immune system and overall health.

Here are some tips to help you reduce stress by making small changes:

One last thing
To further lower your chances of getting sick, beef up your natural defenses by getting the flu shot. Here are 5 reasons to get a flu shot today.

Some call DailyCaring.com the “Reader’s Digest” of caregiving and aging information. Families caring for older adults can get free email updates with practical tips and resources. Improve your care situation by subscribing at www.DailyCaring.com today!
By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

VIDEO: Get Up From a Fall MacGyver Style!

The CareLinx Team really likes this practical guest article by DailyCaring. In fact, the video is ideal for showing to family and friends. It gets you thinking and looking around the room for ways to help you get up from a tumble! This week's topic is:  

VIDEO: Get Up From a Fall MacGyver Style!

Seniors need to know how to rescue themselves from falls
Knowing how to get up from a fall is a critical life skill for your older adult. If they’re not injured, having the ability and confidence to help themselves will save them the trauma and embarrassment of lying on the floor and waiting for help. If they’re injured and alone, knowing how to call for help will prevent the additional pain and discomfort of waiting for hours or days for someone to find them.

10 fall recovery techniques that really work
In this video, Rhonda Bonecutter, an occupational therapist, shows 10 different ways to safely get up off the floor after a fall. Knowing how to use common household objects to help get up makes a huge difference! She demonstrates 8 different ways to get up in a non-injury situation and 2 options for injury situations.

Why is self-rescue important?
As mentioned in this video, the longer time a senior spends on the floor after a fall, the higher the risk of severe health consequences and loss of ability to remain independent. Those are motivational reasons to learn to rescue themselves from falls!

Who or what is MacGyver?
Some of you may remember action hero Angus MacGyver, from the ‘80s TV show MacGyver. He would go on missions and usually end up stuck in dangerous, seemingly unsolvable situations. But at the last minute, he would creatively use everyday objects around him to get out of the situation and save the day.

Seniors can be their own heros
Being able to save themselves from minor falls can give seniors and family greater peace of mind. Knowing these skills can help them avoid the unpleasant consequences of being trapped on the floor, waiting for help.


DailyCaring.com helps families caring for older adults by finding the best information about caregiving and aging. Stay up to date with the latest practical advice to improve your care situation. Get free email updates at www.DailyCaring.com – subscribe today!

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: serious eats


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Home Health Care vs In-home Care: What's the Difference?

The CareLinx Team is pleased to introduce our readers to our first of many guest articles by DailyCaring. We invite you to visit their website and follow them on Facebook. This week's topic is:

Home Health Care vs In-home Care:
What's the Difference?

Two different services with similar names
When most people hear the words “home health care” and “in-home care,” they assume those services are the same. It turns out there are some important differences.

Home health care is medical care
Home health care is skilled care from medical professionals. Written orders from a doctor are needed to start home health care. This helps older adults recover at home from a health issue. It’s usually less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care from a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF). Services can include:
  • Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound
  • At-home physical, occupational, or speech therapy
  • Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status
  • Intravenous (IV) or nutrition therapy
  • Pain management
  • Injections

In-home care is non-medical care
In-home care services are non-medical and primarily help older adults with the activities of daily living. The main goal is to keep them safe and comfortable in their own homes. Services can include:
  • Help with personal grooming, like bathing or getting dressed
  • Help with moving around, getting in and out of bed or the shower
  • Medication reminders
  • Help preparing meals
  • Help with household chores like vacuuming or doing laundry
  • Companionship and friendship

Home health care and in-home care can work together
Here are two examples where in-home care and home health care services can work together to help your older adult.

  • An in-home caregiver helps them remember to take daily medications.
  • A home health nurse can adjust or change medications as needed.

Physical therapy
  • A home health agency can work with the doctor to adjust physical therapy if it’s not working.
  • An in-home caregiver is there to encourage your older adult to do their physical therapy exercises, watch for problems, and let the physical therapist know how the exercises are going. 

Quick comparison chart: In-home care vs home health care

In-home Care
Home Health Care
Companionship, meal prep, light housekeeping, help with personal grooming and hygiene

Help getting in and out of bed, help to and from the bathroom
Reminders to take medication
Must be prescribed by a doctor
Covered by Medicare
Skilled nursing, wound care, injections, IVs, or pain management at home
Change or adjust medications as needed
At-home visits from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapist

DailyCaring.com supports families caring for older adults with the most important information about aging and caregiving. Get free email updates with the latest practical advice to improve your care situation. Sign up at DailyCaring.com today!

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Image: Frances Fox