Two Articles about Caregiving

This week I’ve come across two articles about caregiving, one a cautionary tale, the other about joy.

The first from the NY Times New Old Age Caring and Coping section (http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com) is a 7/29/12 blog by Judith Graham, “Who’s Watching Mom?” She recounts unfortunate common truths about some caregivers (whether they be private or through an agency) – sometimes they are not properly trained, sometimes they steal and sometimes they even abuse their vulnerable clients. She details a new study by researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, looking at agencies that provide caregivers.

Because non-medical home care services are paid for privately, it is not a regulated industry. That means there are individuals and agencies providing care to frail elderly and the disabled with little or no state or federal oversight or consumer protection. It is imperative that families make sure they are using a reputable agency, one that screens its employees and trains them properly to work with elders, the disabled and those with dementia. The agency should also be one that maintains high standards of care and carries liability and workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, it should have adequate staffing to meet the needs of each client, including the ability to replace a sick caregiver. It is because agencies have the resources to do these things, that I recommend using them over private individuals.

The other article is by Sally Abrahms, “A Comfort-and-Joy Approach” in the July-August 2012 AARP bulletin (www.aarp.org/bulletin). It talks about three unique programs in long-term care facilities for people with dementia that de-emphasize set schedules and medications and emphasizes fun at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, MA; ElderServe at Night, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, NY, and Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, AZ. I have had personal experience with the program at the Beatitudes and can attest to the benefits of focusing on comfort and individual joy.

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