Five Tips for Finding a Quality Home Care Provider

You and your family have decided that it is time to bring in outside help to assist with the care of a loved one in need. Because you want them to be able to remain safe, comfortable and independent in their own home for as long as possible, you have chosen to hire an in-home caregiver or home healthcare agency. The next step is choosing the best care provider for you and your loved one. But how do you know who the best is?

Here are five tips for finding a quality home care provider:

  1. Get recommendations. Talk to trusted professionals and community members. Your parent’s doctor, financial advisor, attorney, other medical providers, friends or family members may have familiarity and experience with local companies that do a good job. A list of providers is also available from your local Area Agency on Aging or hospital social work department. However, it is rare for these resources to make specific recommendations.
  2. Know your liability. Understand the possible liabilities and ramifications involved when hiring a caregiver privately. Consider issues such as taxes, insurance, liability and worker’s compensation, backup coverage, background checks/oversight and training.  If hiring through a nurse registry or employment agency, the family may end up being the official employer, responsible for pay, taxes and other obligations. On the other end of the spectrum, fully licensed private duty home health agencies offer more comprehensive services and protections as employers of the caregivers.  To learn more about state agency requirements and protections, contact your state licensing agency for healthcare organizations, or visit the National Private Duty Association at www.privatedutyhomecare.org.
  3. Consider innovation. Research how current their monitoring and communications technology is. How easy is it to monitor the care your loved one is receiving? Do they use technology like telephone clock in systems and scheduling software for quality assurance?  How quickly are they aware if a caregiver has not shown up to provide care?  What methods do they use to communicate with you?  Do they offer you conveniences such as online monitoring and paying bills online or via credit card?  Do they keep up to date with aging in place technology and can they provide you recommendations that may bolster care?
  1. Get to know who you’re hiring. When talking with an agency, get a feel for their process. Will they allow you and your loved one to interview potential caregivers? How do they handle replacing a caregiver that is not a good fit? What steps do they take to ensure coverage and accountability? How do they supervise, train and support staff? Do they strive for continuity or will your loved one have different staff each time?  How many caregivers will cover the shifts your loved one requires?  It is important to discuss your loved one’s specific diagnosis and needs, finding out the agency’s experience with similar situations and any special training and guidance they provide, for example training on working with clients with Alzheimer’s disease.  While regulations standardize licensed home care agencies to a degree, these are the things that will set one agency apart from another.
  2. Research involvement. Seek out providers who have a history in the community and the industry. Check if providers are involved with local and national associations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the Area Agency on Aging and the National Private Duty Association. Their involvement demonstrates passion and dedication for their field. Management staff that has a history in the community and the profession demonstrates a commitment, stability and a positive reputation that they would want to protect.

Photo credit: familymwr

About the authors: Alex Chamberlain is executive director at EasyLiving, Inc. (http://www.easylivingfl.com), a fully licensed, private duty home health care company serving individuals and families in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida.

Shannon Martin, M.S.W., CMC, serves as Director of Communications for EasyLiving, Inc. and Aging Wisely, LLC (http://www.agingwisely.com). Shannon has worked for Aging Wisely, a professional geriatric care management and consultation firm, for over 8 years.

10 Top Anti-Aging Tips for a Youthful Mind, Body, Spirit

10 Top Anti-Aging TIps for a Youthful Mind, Body, SpiritThe desire for youthful energy never leaves and is capable of staying with you well until your later years. Boomers are, however, faced with the old adage, “use it or lose it.” It’s no wonder boomers are keen to put passion back into their lives and fight the effects of aging. True we are living in a society with an obesity epidemic and what a better motivator than living an independent life well into ones retirement with an increased zest and ability to perform activities of daily living with greater ease and function.

How do function and aging co-exist and blend with fitness? They are a twin-ship, even if we don’t see them that way. No one wants to feel and look old before their time. Much of what we blame on aging: weakness, decreased range of motion and obesity can be reversed in 30 days. How do we look and feel younger in 30 days? Through a blissful discipline called Functional Fitness.

Americans are getting older every minute and life expectancy is ever-increasing. People leading full productive lives after the age of retirement are no longer a “wow.” Most baby boomers want to live active lives and learn how to enjoy a fulfilling active life. You’re as fit as your body is functional. Contrary to popular opinion, not even all young people are limber, for keeping flexibility relies on regular stretching. However flexibility, one of the three primary components of physical fitness, is extremely important to attaining a healthy life. Without flexibility, simple activities, such as reaching and bending become painful. True, muscles shorten with age, but according to the National Foundation for anti-aging, “most aging is premature.” Here are 10 tips to help you stay younger, fitter and functional.

1- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day. Hydrate skin, nourish it, and prevent wrinkles.

2- Stretch and strengthen your legs. Doing calf raises and tiptoe walking every other day improves circulation and helps prevents spider veins.

3- Incorporate upper-body exercises. Lift mini dumbbells, and stretch back muscles. This protects against osteoporosis.

4- Strengthen your abs five days a week. Sit-ups enhance blood flow to vital organs, repairing tissue damage.

5- Add aerobic exercise. Keep your heart and lungs youthful and fit.

6 – Choose aerobics that enhance brain power. Jogging, bicycling, and speed walking sharpen memory and increase attention span.

7- Use diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale through your nose so debris and pollutants are filtered from the air. Make your belly rise, and then fall slowly, exhaling through pursed lips. Relaxed breathing decreases levels of stress hormones that accelerate aging.

8- Eat baked, broiled, or grilled salmon two times per week. Its omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins combat disease-causing free radicals.

9- Try colorful vegetables. Dr. Roy Vartabedian, author of “Nutripoints,” and Nutrition Expert for Functional Fitness starring Suzanne Andrews, ® recommends spinach, broccoli and romaine lettuce daily with lunch and dinner. Dark green vegetables have cancer-fighting properties and vitamin C to boost your immune system. Tomatoes are also on this “fighter veggies” list.

10- Enjoy fresh fruit for dessert. Dr. Vartabedian suggests cantaloupe, guava, and papaya. These also combat the cell damage that causes premature aging.

About the Author: Suzanne Andrews, founder of Functional Fitness, approved by the National Educational Telecommunications Association for syndication on PBS TV and licensed occupational therapy practitioner, specializes in therapeutically proven techniques to improve function through fitness. Offering real life fitness solutions for real life challenges, she instructs you how to decrease joint pain, improve balance, thicken bones, boost energy and once again live life to the fullest. Learn how to get Functional Fitness starring Suzanne Andrews® on your local PBS station and enter to win a FREE set of 8 Functional Fitness DVD’s. Details at http://www.healthwiseexercise.com/contact.php

10 Top Anti-Aging Tips for a Youthful Mind, Body, Spirit

The desire for youthful energy never leaves and is capable of staying with you well until your later years. Boomers are, however, faced with the old adage, “use it or lose it.” It’s no wonder boomers are keen to put passion back into their lives and fight the effects of aging. True we are living in a society with an obesity epidemic and what a better motivator than living an independent life well into ones retirement with an increased zest and ability to perform activities of daily living with greater ease and function.

How do function and aging co-exist and blend with fitness? They are a twin-ship, even if we don’t see them that way. No one wants to feel and look old before their time. Much of what we blame on aging: weakness, decreased range of motion and obesity can be reversed in 30 days. How do we look and feel younger in 30 days? Through a blissful discipline called Functional Fitness.

Americans are getting older every minute and life expectancy is ever-increasing. People leading full productive lives after the age of retirement are no longer a “wow.” Most baby boomers want to live active lives and learn how to enjoy a fulfilling active life. You’re as fit as your body is functional. Contrary to popular opinion, not even all young people are limber, for keeping flexibility relies on regular stretching. However flexibility, one of the three primary components of physical fitness, is extremely important to attaining a healthy life. Without flexibility, simple activities, such as reaching and bending become painful. True, muscles shorten with age, but according to the National Foundation for anti-aging, “most aging is premature.” Here are 10 tips to help you stay younger, fitter and functional.

1- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day. Hydrate skin, nourish it, and prevent wrinkles.

2- Stretch and strengthen your legs. Doing calf raises and tiptoe walking every other day improves circulation and helps prevents spider veins.

3- Incorporate upper-body exercises. Lift mini dumbbells, and stretch back muscles. This protects against osteoporosis.

4- Strengthen your abs five days a week. Sit-ups enhance blood flow to vital organs, repairing tissue damage.

5- Add aerobic exercise. Keep your heart and lungs youthful and fit.

6 – Choose aerobics that enhance brain power. Jogging, bicycling, and speed walking sharpen memory and increase attention span.

7- Use diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale through your nose so debris and pollutants are filtered from the air. Make your belly rise, and then fall slowly, exhaling through pursed lips. Relaxed breathing decreases levels of stress hormones that accelerate aging.

8- Eat baked, broiled, or grilled salmon two times per week. Its omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins combat disease-causing free radicals.

9- Try colorful vegetables. Dr. Roy Vartabedian, author of “Nutripoints,” and Nutrition Expert for Functional Fitness starring Suzanne Andrews, ® recommends spinach, broccoli and romaine lettuce daily with lunch and dinner. Dark green vegetables have cancer-fighting properties and vitamin C to boost your immune system. Tomatoes are also on this “fighter veggies” list.

10- Enjoy fresh fruit for dessert. Dr. Vartabedian suggests cantaloupe, guava, and papaya. These also combat the cell damage that causes premature aging.

About the Author: Suzanne Andrews, founder of Functional Fitness, approved by the National Educational Telecommunications Association for syndication on PBS TV and licensed occupational therapy practitioner, specializes in therapeutically proven techniques to improve function through fitness. Offering real life fitness solutions for real life challenges, she instructs you how to decrease joint pain, improve balance, thicken bones, boost energy and once again live life to the fullest. Learn how to get Functional Fitness starring Suzanne Andrews® on your local PBS station and enter to win a FREE set of 8 Functional Fitness DVD’s. Details at http://www.healthwiseexercise.com/contact.php

Finally, a Vision for Care Referrals That Will Improve Outcomes

Picture this: you’re one of millions of Americans who needs care at home either because of aging, dementia, recovery from surgery or other disabilities.  You’ve got a family—and often an unpaid caregiver who helps with your care.  They’re part of an elaborate team of caregivers, physicians, therapists and non-medical assistance.  I’ve lived this first-hand as I’ve cared for my mother, and I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of families in the same situation.

Insurance companies and other employee benefit programs often deliver these care recommendations.  They do the best they can considering maintaining these programs—and the underlying data—is not their primary business.  Unfortunately, they struggle to extend these programs across the whole company so that each member-facing group can leverage the same data to provide the best care referrals to their members. I’ve just assumed it was one of those “not-yet-solvable” situations, as healthcare technology is always a bit slower than other industries.  So we did the best we could and used what was not an ideal support system.

The Future of Care Referral Programs

I think I finally found a vision for the future.

I ran into a white paper from SNAPforSeniors that really caught my eye.  If SNAP can deliver on this vision—and if insurance companies, call centers and other providers have the vision and foresight to adopt it—it will dramatically change the outcomes of care coordination as part of the age in place movement.  More important, it will give families like mine the peace of mind that we are getting referred to the best matched providers for our care.

I know this vision may not concern some of you, but I highly recommend you check it out.  These types of ideas are the ones that are going to make the biggest impact. If you think your family would benefit from your insurer adopting programs like this, you should let them know.

Here’s the link to the paper – http://bit.ly/aPPsWU.