“More than 1 in 5 Americans are taking care of their elderly, ill and disabled relatives and friends” – The Conversation
“Caring for loved ones is harder during the coronavirus pandemic.” – Maskot/Getty Images
by Erin E. Kent
“I’m studying how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing caregiving.
“Immunocompromised people, seniors with dementia and anyone with a chronic disease are more likely to experience the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Caregivers face new worries due to the coronavirus, including whether they can they still assist their vulnerable relatives and friends and what they should do if they themselves or someone they live with gets sick.
“This quandary affects about 21.3% of Americans. The total number of Americans doing this unpaid work has reached an estimated 53 million in 2019, according to the latest data collected by the National Alliance for Caregiving, an advocacy and research organization, and AARP. That number, which excludes people caring for children without disabilities, is up from 43.5 million, the previous estimate made in 2015.
“Caregivers support their loved ones and friends by voluntarily performing an array of duties. They help with activities of daily living, such as eating and getting dressed, along with a range of medical needs. They change bandages, make sure the person they’re caring for is taking their drugs and monitor symptoms.”
“David Aguirre jumped in his truck and drove toward the hospital in the predawn darkness the minute he got the news: His 91-year-old mom was being rushed from her Texas assisted living facility to the emergency room.
Estela Aguirre would be one of five residents to die and six others to be sickened by the novel coronavirus at The Waterford at College Station, part of a financially strapped chain of assisted living sites called Capital Senior Living.
“So he missed seeing her draw her last breath.”
“’My mom was a sweet, kind person. People really felt like they’d known her for 100 years. She was just that kind of soul,’ said Aguirre, who lost his mother on March 28. ‘Some days, I’ll sit down and have my heart cry.’
“Assisted living complexes, home to more than 800,000 people nationwide, have quickly become a new and dangerous theater in the coronavirus war.”
Read this story in its entirety at Kaiser Health News, click here.
“Pandemic exposes low pay and scant protections for nursing assistants and home-care aides” – The Los Angeles Times
“Personal care assistant Maria Colville leaves home for her job caring for an elderly woman in Watertown, Mass. – (Lane Turner / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
by Rowan Moore Garety
“When she heard friends working at Lowe’s were in line for $300 hazard-pay bonuses, Allanah Smit wondered why her employer, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Miss., had no such plans. ‘Healthcare workers deserve hazard pay too,” she declared on Twitter. “Yes, we chose this profession, but we didn’t sign up to fight a global pandemic with ONE N-95 respirator and improper PPE.’
“As a certified nursing assistant, Smit makes just over $14 an hour to bathe, feed, and reposition patients recovering from car accidents, strokes, and major surgeries like hip replacements. When elective surgeries were suspended last week as the coronavirus spread from hot spots such as New Orleans, Smit began caring for patients with symptoms of COVID-19.
“As the healthcare system braces for the full impact of the pandemic, the shortage of doctors and nurses in epicenters like New York has gotten massive attention.
“Less scrutiny has been paid to home health aides, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants — ”
“For patients and workers alike, home health visits fraught with fears of coronavirus” – The Boston Globe
“JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF
“Eric McGuire relies on home healthcare workers for almost everything: helping him get from his bed to a wheelchair, assisting with bathing and dressing, checking his oxygen levels while he sleeps.
“On Monday, one his caregivers told him she thought she had a sinus infection, but had arranged to be tested for the novel coronavirus just to be sure and was self-quarantining as a precaution. She asked whether he was showing any symptoms.
“McGuire, 43, felt fine, but is worried about whether she could have passed something along to him during a visit to his Franklin home. And as he battles to regain the use of his legs after a nerve disorder nearly killed him two years ago, he worries how he would get by if his aides stop coming by.”
Here are three comprehensive reports about topics that are increasingly important as people age. To view or download each report click on on one of the graphics below.
Families Caring for an Aging America | Family caregiving affects millions of Americans every day, in all walks of life. At least 17.7 million individuals in the United States are caregivers of an older adult with a health or functional limitation. The nation’s family caregivers provide the lion’s share of long-term care for our older adult population. They are also central to older adults’ access to and receipt of health care and community-based social services. Yet the need to recognize and support caregivers is among the least appreciated challenges facing the aging U.S. population.
The Health and Medical Dimensions of Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults | How do social isolation and loneliness affect health and quality of life in adults aged 50 and older? How can clinical settings of health care to help reduce the incidence and adverse health impacts of social isolation and loneliness?
Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action | For most Americans, staying “mentally sharp” as they age is a very high priority. Declines in memory and decision-making abilities may trigger fears of Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative diseases. However, cognitive aging is a natural process that can have both positive and negative effects on cognitive function in older adults – effects that vary widely among individuals. At this point in time, when the older population is rapidly growing in the United States and across the globe, it is important to examine what is known about cognitive aging and to identify and promote actions that individuals, organizations, communities, and society can take to help older adults maintain and improve their cognitive health.
WEBINAR: “Measuring home and community-based services for older adults and people with disabilities”
Register for this WEBINAR that will be held on February 5, 2020 at 2:00 pm eastern time.
Gain a deeper understanding of the factors that help older adults and people with disabilities maintain their independence, and to what degree publicly funded services are meeting those needs. This session examines a wealth of data to answer the questions:
- What access does the aging and disabled community have to vital services like transportation, employment, and service coordination?
- How do outcomes vary among programs funded by Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and states?
- Where can I go for data to guide the work of my agency?
While most family and unpaid caregivers looking after older adults feel listened to when talking with the adults’ health care provider, a small new survey finds that few are asked about needing assistance. Here’s more:
- Interaction with health providers: The vast majority of those surveyed said they always or usually feel heard by the older adults’ health providers. At the same time, fewer than half of caregivers interact with clinicians.
- Assistance: Almost half of caregivers said they were never asked about needing help tending to the person under their care, while about 20% said they were always asked. Those who interacted with health workers were more likely to be asked about needing assistance with caregiving.
- Dementia care: Those assisting adults with dementia were more likely to report being listened to, and asked about needing help and whether they understood the medications they were handling.
In this national survey study, most caregivers reported that older adults’ health care workers always (70.6%) or usually (18.2%) listened to them and always (54.4%) or usually (17.7%) asked about their understanding of the older adult’s treatments, but fewer caregivers reported being always (21.3%) or usually (6.9%) asked whether they need help managing older adults’ care.
SOURCE: STAT Morning Rounds
“Like climate change, the aging of America demands a serious rethinking of the way we live.”
“Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times”
by Sysan Jacoby
“One of the paradoxes of this presidential campaign is that while many of the candidates are in their eighth decade of life, fundamental issues associated with the aging of American society are still receiving relatively little attention from the public, the press and politicians themselves. In 2031, the oldest baby boomers will turn 85, entering the land of the ‘old old’ and facing exponentially higher risk for dementia, serious physical disabilities and long-term dependency.
“Like climate change, the aging of America demands serious reconsideration of the way we live. Confronting the issue and its many implications, from Medicare’s failure to cover long-term care to the ethics of physician-assisted dying, requires what seems to be the most difficult task for human beings — thinking about the future.
“In November, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the birthrate among women of childbearing age had dropped to a record low, continuing a sharp decline in births that began around the financial crisis of 2008. At the same time, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported an increased death rate in the 25- to 64-year-old age group, with the main causes thought to be opioid overdoses, alcoholism and suicide.”