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Aging Wisely April, 2011 | Aging Wisely

Aging Wisely April 2011 Care Manager Certifications

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Local Company News: Aging Wisely, LLC

Clearwater, Fla. (April 28. 2011) – Aging Wisely, LLC, a Tampa Bay care management and patient advocacy firm, is pleased to announce that several of its Care Managers have recently achieved national certifications.

Karuna Reiff, LCSW, CMC has achieved the CMC (Care Manager Certified) designation. In order to achieve this certification, provided by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, care managers must meet educational and experiential qualifications and then pass a certification examination. The Academy seeks to assure “individual competence to perform the full range of care management tasks through a validated, standardized examination that tests the skills, knowledge, and practice ethics needed to serve consumers”. For more information on this certification, visit http://www.naccm.net.

Care managers Juliet Lewis, CMC, CCM and Julie Scott, CMC, CCM recently passed the examination and completed the requirements to hold the CCM (Certified Case Management) designation. According to the Commission for Case Management Certification, “Case managers who have earned the Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential have the expertise, knowledge, and professional experience to provide the right services to patients with serious or complex medical conditions, and/or catastrophic injuries and illnesses”. For more information, visit http://www.ccmcertification.org/.

“We believe in bringing the highest quality expertise to clients and families dealing with eldercare and health issues,” says Linda Chamberlain, President and Founder of Aging Wisely. “Our team covers a broad range of specialties and we fully support continued education to ensure we can serve clients’ diverse needs. Seeking professional certifications in our fields demonstrates our commitment to the highest level of professional standards and expertise.”

About Aging Wisely: Founded in 1998, Aging Wisely, LLC is a professional care management and consultation company, serving families faced with illness, disability and caregiving concerns. Aging Wisely provides consulting services, assessments, recommendations, advocacy and care coordination for clients in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties and for families throughout the nation. Additionally, Aging Wisely is often called upon by organizations and publications as an expert resource on eldercare issues and aging. In 2009, Aging Wisely was recognized as a finalist in the Tampa Bay.

Media Contact:
Shannon Martin
727-447-5845
shannonmartin@agingwisely.com

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Managing the Caregiving Maze

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Most people will find themselves in the role of caregiver at some point in time. You may not even identify with the role of caregiver right now, but realize you have concerns about an aging parent or have started the process of discussing Mom or Dad’s care needs with your family. Here are some useful steps for anyone embarking on this journey…

1. Get a baseline of the situation. You may wish to make some notes about the individual’s personal history, background and patterns; health history; recent health concerns and changes; current functioning level; pattern of when concerns began and changes you’ve observed. You may need to ascertain some information and observations from others who have been involved. A baseline can help you provide better information to professional providers. It will also give you an idea of what some of the immediate concerns might be and specific examples to illustrate them. If you see the care recipient daily, notes about changes, history and dates can help you with the big picture.

2. Get a good medical evaluation and diagnosis. Find appropriate professionals/specialists to ensure you have gotten a thorough evaluation and have a team of professionals you can rely upon moving forward. A comprehensive geriatric assessment proves useful in most cases as well, for a complete picture of the situation, needs and options.

3. Educate yourself and share information with other family members. Learn about the diagnosis, read up about what you might expect and learn about resources. A reliable place to start is with the disease-specific organization that applies to your loved one (such as the Alzheimer’s Association or National M.S. Society) or your local Area Agency on Aging. We maintain a list of some valuable website resources as well.

4. Examine finances as an important piece of the care puzzle. Pull together vital information about your loved one’s financial situation and factor this in to care planning. A good care plan should include a budget, as well as a review of available benefits and what might be needed in the future. An additional aspect of financial planning includes managing finances for a loved one who is no longer able, and assisting with paperwork and organization. The role of “Administrative Manager” can quickly become overwhelming, so consider how the family can best manage this and other duties. For more about financing eldercare, resources to assist with daily money management and organizing financial information, visit our Eldercare Payment Concerns section.

5. Review legal documents/needs. Advance directives and estate planning documents help ensure your loved one’s wishes are carried out as he/she desires. Find out if your loved one has completed documents. With major life changes such as health issues, schedule a review appointment to ensure documents are up to date and sufficient. If your loved one has not completed any such documents, make it a priority to get an appointment for advice.

6. Evaluate the environment. Conduct a home safety/falls prevention review or seek a professional to review the environment and make recommendations. If you are considering moving a loved one in with you or choosing a care facility, a professional consultation can help you evaluate the options and minimize the unexpected.

7. Outline a care plan, which pulls together all of the information above, available resources and realistic expectations. Review periodically and update. Consider family meetings to get input and discuss, where appropriate.

For resources to help with specific senior care concerns, we invite you to read our previous posts Eldercare Solutions and Professional Resources to Help Family Caregivers.

If you need help with eldercare resources or senior services, we’re here to help! CONTACT US today about caregiver consultations and geriatric assessments.

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Professional Resources for Caregivers

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Our last post addressed Different Types of Resources to Assist Caregivers with specific situations. We will continue here with some of the concerns we hear from caregivers and some professional services available to help if you encounter these issues as a family elder caregiver.

Problem: Sibling Disagreement, Family Conflict
Resource: Geriatric Care Managers & Family Mediators. A geriatric care manager can perform a comprehensive assessment and work with family members on options and compromises. An geriatric assessment provides a thorough picture of the situation from a neutral party, professional expertise/recommendations and a roadmap that may help the parties move forward. Some situations require mediation, in which a neutral party (a trained mediator) helps parties work towards an informal dispute settlement. Aging Wisely’s care manager, Robin Dunlap, has completed a training program for the Florida Supreme Court family mediator certification so that Aging Wisely might be able to assist families when this need arises.

Problem: Decision Making & Legal Authority
Resource: Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorneys. If your loved one has not completed advance directives and estate planning documents, this is a vital step in planning for illness or possible incapacity. Aging Wisely can make a recommendation to a local Tampa/Pinellas County elder law or estate planning attorney if you need assistance. You may also need the services of an experienced attorney if your loved one has not appointed someone to make decisions and may have limited capacity now. An attorney can explain the options and help with the guardianship process if necessary. If your loved one has provided you with decision making authority and you are having difficulty getting information from various parties, you may wish to read our handout “Getting Answers about Your Loved One’s Care“.

Problem: Cognitive Issues
Resource: Geriatric specialists, such as neurologists, geriatric psychiatrists, memory clinics and groups like the Alzheimer’s Association.
If you are concerned about some changes in your loved one, the first step is to get a good diagnostic workup done. This will help you determine your loved one’s current level of functioning and thus what might be needed now and in the future, as well as provide some certainty about the situation. As a starting point, review our handout “Memory Loss: Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Old Age-What is it?” and contact us if you need resources in the Pinellas County and Tampa Bay area.

As a family caregiver, the issues you face are personal. However, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. When you run in to a roadblock, you may be surprised to find there is a resource or solution to help. Our goal is to simplify things for you…so if you are running in to such a roadblock, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your concerns. We work with an excellent network of resources throughout the community and have been involved in elder advocacy for many years, so we’re often aware of unique solutions.

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Overview of Resources Available to Help Caregivers

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While caring for an aging family member or someone with a chronic illness, the journey will have different stages in which you will encounter different needs. There are many resources out there to support caregivers, but it can be overwhelming to sort through them…and to identify an answer to your specific problem quickly (if it takes 20 hours of research, it may seem easier to do without help).

We will share a breakdown of some of the different types of resources available to match specific needs. For customized recommendations and an analysis of your situation, contact us to learn more about our caregiver consultations.

Problem: I need some help with daily tasks for my loved one. I can’t always be there to provide a ride to an appointment, grocery shopping or cleaning the house. If someone could help out for a few hours each week, it would make my job much easier.

Resources: Home Health Caregivers, such as those available through licensed home care agencies like EasyLiving, Inc. (serving seniors in Pinellas County, Florida), can help with household tasks, transportation, meal preparation, companionship and personal care. Most offer flexible, affordable plans from only a few hours a week to more extensive support when needed.

Senior transportation programs-offered through non-profits and community organizations may provide transportation to doctor’s appointments or low cost public transportation for seniors or disabled individuals. You local Area Agency on Aging is the best starting point for a list of programs.

Lotsahelpinghands.org
is a resource to create free, private, web-based communities for organizing friends, family, and colleagues – your ‘circles of community’ – during times of need (coordinate activities, manage volunteers, share needs).

Problem: I need a break, or don’t know what to do about my upcoming vacation plans because I fear leaving my loved one.

Resources: Respite care is the name for care options designed to provide short-term care, a “respite” for caregivers or assistance during a tough time. There are a variety of options for respite care, from licensed home health companies providing someone to care for your loved one at home, to assisted living facility short term stays. Adult Day programs may also offer you a break during the day, and many caregivers find that a blend of solutions best meets their needs and budget.

The National Respite Locator Service helps parents, family caregivers, and professionals find respite services in their state and local area to match their specific needs. Community organizations and faith communities may offer programs to help.

If you will be away, consider hiring a Geriatric Care Manager to oversee care and check in on your loved one, whether at home or in a care facility. Most geriatric care managers provide 24/7 on-call service, so you have peace of mind during your time away.

Problem: I would like to share my frustrations with others who understand–I don’t feel like my friends and family want to hear about it any more. Plus, I’d like to get ideas about what other caregivers have found to be helpful.

Resources: There are a wide variety of caregiver support groups available in most communities. Your Area Agency on Aging should be able to provide a list, or contact a disease-specific organization, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or MS Society.

There are also a number of online communities offering support and interaction with other caregivers. You will find caregiver groups on Facebook and many websites, such as Caring.com. and Caregiver.org. Family Caregivers Alliance offers a good article about online support groups and communities, including how to find a good match and “netiquette”. There are even some support groups done via telephone and The Well Spouse Association for spousal caregivers offers letter-writing “round robins” and mentoring.

Our next blog post will continue this discussion with some additional professional services to aide caregivers and provide you the advice and support you need.

We invite you to sign up for our monthly newsletter for up-to-date resources and tips or CONTACT US today for information on how we can help, caregiver consultations, and geriatric care assessments for tailored recommendations to save you time and stress.

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Caregiver Tips: Reduce Your Stress

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We are honoring caregivers during Stress Awareness Month, with tips, pointers and resources to help you reduce your stress and manage your caregiving duties. Here are some caregiver stress reduction pointers:

Pull together your loved one’s medical and personal records in a systematic way. Organizational tools and systems can help. There are many great caregiver tools online to do so. We use Caregiver’s Touch, which also offers a mobile app for easy access. When you find yourself in the role of caregiver, whether suddenly or over time, it can be challenging to pull together a comprehensive, accurate history. We often assist families with this task, and confirming and organizing relevant information as well as developing a baseline of the client’s health status. An online tool provides better accessibility and can eliminate one more thing for you to think about as a caregiver (“Where is that information?”), but you can also use a notebook or filing system to organize these records if you prefer. In addition to medical history and records, you may find this Document Locator List a handy tool to guide the kind of information you should have handy.

Make sure you get enough “sustenance” to keep you strong for your caregiving role. A great tip from Nicole Levison on StrengthforCaring.com explains the acronym HALT, “It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired and is commonly referred to as a list of the main reasons people overindulge or melt-down. Add “worry” to the factors that can adversely affect you. A good night of rest, a good nutritious meal, and an evening with friends may help you cope with family caregiving!”

Find out about resources to assist. Ask your employer if they offer any eldercare resources—many do through their EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs), whether information and referral or caregiver toolkits and even benefits or workplace accommodations. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging or a geriatric care manager. The best time to do some background research is before a crisis hits. This can be tough when you are busy with completing duties, but even a brief consultation may yield a lot of information and pointers that will make your path smoother.

Break down your concerns and tasks in to lists. Things quickly become overwhelming when you feel stressed, making them seem impossible to tackle. It can help to write down your list of “to dos” and prioritize. Looking at it on paper can make it seem more manageable, and you can identify tasks with which others can assist. You may feel you have to handle certain things yourself, but don’t allow yourself to feel you have to handle it all.

Always schedule time for at least one important activity or passion. The activity could be 30 minutes/day to read or take a walk, attend your book club once/month, meditate, or share lunch with a friend.

In our future posts, we will offer some practical pointers and resources to help you with eldercare tasks. We will also discuss some of the top areas of stress many caregivers face and possible solutions if you are faced with these as well. You can subscribe to our blog feed here or contact us for more information or assistance today.

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Stress Awareness Month: Family Caregiver Stress

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April is Stress Awareness Month

Family caregivers face a number of sources of stress. Not only may you be juggling many roles, but you may find yourself managing multiple crises, worrying about the future, arguing with family members over what is best and dealing with a quickly changing and hard to navigate situation. You may be part of what is known as the “sandwich generation”, caring for both aging parents and your children.

Our April blog posts will address caregiver stress: tips, resources for coping and how to get assistance. You will see a recurring theme, which is that while caregiving is very much a personal family matter, professional support and resources can help you…to do the best job as a caregiver and to reduce stress. One of the biggest worries caregivers express to us is the lingering doubt about decisions (thoughts of “Am I doing what is best?”). We will share some resources that can help with that issue as well as tips and experiences from working with families over many years.

If you are experiencing any of the following, check out our upcoming articles or contact us today about ways we can help, from resources suggestions to caregiver consultations and long-distance caregiver support:

• Feeling overwhelmed with caregiving duties
• Resenting siblings who don’t do as much as me
• Arguing with family members over what is best for our loved one
• Feeling that I am neglecting other relationships
• Anxiety over the phone ringing, afraid there will be a crisis on the other end
• Excessive phone calls throughout the day from my loved one
• Foregoing vacation plans because my loved one needs me all the time
• Giving up favorite activities for caregiving duties
• Difficulty managing work duties
• Financial stress due to paying for a parent’s care

The website StrengthforCaring.com has a great series of articles on this topic you may also wish to visit and review.

To follow our blog posts and keep up with our Caregiver Tips, you can subscribe to our RSS Feed (allowing you to received notifications through email or your favorite RSS reader), follow us on Twitter, join our Fan Page on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

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Family Caregiver Stress

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April is Stress Awareness Month

Family caregivers face a number of sources of stress. Not only may you be juggling many roles, but you may find yourself managing multiple crises, worrying about the future, arguing with family members over what is best and dealing with a quickly changing and hard to navigate situation. You may be part of what is known as the “sandwich generation”, caring for both aging parents and your children.

Our April blog posts will address caregiver stress: tips, resources for coping and how to get assistance. You will see a recurring theme, which is that while caregiving is very much a personal family matter, professional support and resources can help you…to do the best job as a caregiver and to reduce stress. One of the biggest worries caregivers express to us is the lingering doubt about decisions (thoughts of “Am I doing what is best?”). We will share some resources that can help with that issue as well as tips and experiences from working with families over many years.

If you are experiencing any of the following, check out our upcoming articles or contact us today about ways we can help, from resources suggestions to caregiver consultations and long-distance caregiver support:

• Feeling overwhelmed with caregiving duties

• Resenting siblings who don’t do as much as me

• Arguing with family members over what is best for our loved one

• Feeling that I am neglecting other relationships

• Anxiety over the phone ringing, afraid there will be a crisis on the other end

• Excessive phone calls throughout the day from my loved one

• Foregoing vacation plans because my loved one needs me all the time

• Giving up favorite activities for caregiving duties

• Difficulty managing work duties

• Financial stress due to paying for a parent’s care

The website StrengthforCaring.com has a great series of articles on this topic you may also wish to visit and review.

To follow our blog posts and keep up with our Caregiver Tips, you can subscribe to our blog (just enter your email address), follow us on Twitter, join our Fan Page on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter below.



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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?


Is the Time Right?
Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.


Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.




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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.