Holiday Bliss or Holiday Blues?
A famous quote from Charles Dicken’s novel, A Tale of Two Cities, states “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” often portrays many peoples’ feelings during the holiday season. For those who have experienced a recent separation, divorce or death of a loved one, the holidays can be an especially painful time period. Other risks for having the holiday blues include financial troubles, illness, lack of social support system, excessive alcohol intake, and fractured family situations.
According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, individuals that reported feelings of happiness, love and high spirits over the holidays also experienced feelings of fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating and sadness. Thirty-eight percent said their stress level increased during the holiday season, noting top stressors as lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, pressures of gift-giving and family gatherings.
You may be experiencing the holiday blues if you feel like simple activities are more difficult than normal, including getting out of bed, making dinner or taking a walk. Other symptoms include greater fatigue, loss of interest in things that typically bring joy, trouble concentrating, headaches, overeating and insomnia.
The messages we give ourselves can often exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and being overwhelmed. Holiday movies are filled with images of warmth and togetherness, while television ads bombard us with gift products that are a must for this holiday season. Our seniors who are living alone, with family far away, are particularly vulnerable to feelings of sadness and isolation. It’s important to keep in close touch with seniors in your life, especially remembering them and including them in holiday plans.
Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suggests the following strategies to minimize the negative aspects of the season.
- Don’t worry about how things should be: Stop comparing ourselves with idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays;
- Be realistic: It’s ok to say no to party invitations or unaffordable gift giving;
- Keep your own well-being first: Limit alcohol intake, as alcohol is a depressant, exercise and get a good night’s sleep every night;
- Volunteer: It provides a great source of comfort to know you are making a dent in the lives of people who are less fortunate than you. Seek out other community, religious or other social events.
Additionally, let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks and keep track of your holiday spending. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression. And if you are still feeling depressed after the holidays are over, you may be dealing with more than just the holiday blues. Seek help with your doctor about your symptoms.
Blessing to you and yours,
- Christine Cauffield, PhD
CLICK HERE to view a COMPLETE PDF version of the FCOA Newsletter AgeWise.
Drumbeat Builds For A Peace Corps Of Caregivers
Imagine a government program that would mobilize volunteers to help older adults across the nation age in place. One is on the way.
The Administration for Community Living, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is taking steps to establish a National Volunteer Care Corps.
If it’s successful, healthy retirees and young adults would take seniors to doctor appointments, shop for groceries, shovel snowy sidewalks, make a bed or mop the floor, or simply visit a few times a week.
Older adults would not only get a hand with household tasks, but also companionship and relief from social isolation. And family caregivers could get a break. Younger volunteers might get class credit at a community college or small stipends. Older volunteers could enjoy a satisfying sense of purpose.
There’s no question the need is enormous, as the ranks of the oldest Americans ― those age 85 and up, who tend to have multiple chronic illnesses and difficulty performing daily tasks ― are set to swell to 14.6 million in 2040, up from more than 6 million now.
Who will care for these seniors? More than 34 million unpaid family caregivers currently shoulder that responsibility, along with 3.3 million paid personal care and home health aides. (Medicare does not pay for long-term care services or non-medical services in the home.)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.2 million new paid jobs of this kind will be needed by 2028. But filling them will be hard, given low pay, difficult work conditions, limited opportunities for professional advancement and high turnover.
This notion of a domestic Peace Corps for caregiving, if you will, has been circulating since 2013, when it surfaced in a Twitter chat on elder care. In 2017 and 2018, bills introduced in Congress proposed a demonstration project, unsuccessfully.
Now, four organizations will spearhead the Care Corps project: the Oasis Institute, which runs the nation’s largest volunteer intergenerational tutoring program; the Caregiver Action Network; the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging; and the Altarum Institute, which works to improve care for vulnerable older adults. The initial grant to the group is $3.8 million; total funding for the five-year project is expected to be $19 million, according to Greg Link, director of the ACL’s office of supportive and caregiver services.
This fall, project leaders will invite organizations across the country to submit proposals to serve “non-medical” needs of older adults and younger adults with disabilities. Next spring, up to 30 organizations will get 18-month grants of $30,000 to $250,000, according to Juliet Simone, director of national health at the Oasis Institute. The goal is to discover innovative, effective programs that offer services to diverse communities (geographic, racial and ethnic) and that can be replicated in multiple locations.
“We want the organizations that apply to be very flexible and creative,” said Anne Montgomery, deputy director of Altarum’s Program to Improve Eldercare. “And we’re aiming to create a volunteer infrastructure that can last and be sustainable.”
All volunteers will undergo background checks and training, and there will be an emphasis on evaluating program results. “We want to be able to say, ‘Here are the services that people really need, and these are the types of things that work well for specific populations,’” said John Schall, CEO of the Caregiver Action Network. Services could include preparing meals, taking seniors to church or home-based tech support for computer users, among many other possibilities.
Care Corps faces several challenges. A big one: The grant is tiny, compared with the trillions of dollars spent on health care. It could take a long time to build it into a national effort that attracts more investment. Project leaders are optimistic. To nonprofit organizations working in the aging field, “it’s a lot of money ― they can do quite a lot with these grants,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. "Programs may find ways to license successful models, and local and national foundations may step in with additional support", Simone said.
Recruiting volunteers could be another challenge. At the Center for Volunteer Caregiving in Cary, N.C., which has been providing “friendly visiting,” transportation and caregiver respite services for 27 years, “it’s the biggest issue we face,” said executive director Elaine Whitford.
Because her organization focuses on building relationships with seniors, it asks volunteers to commit to at least a year. “We get a lot of interest,” Whitford said, “then people realize that this just isn’t going to fit into their schedule.”
Helen Anderson, 86, has sickle cell disease, lupus and chronic pain. She lives alone in a Cary apartment. Without help from the center’s volunteers, three women and a man who’ve taken her shopping, cleaned her apartment and done her laundry since 2008, she said, “I could not live independently.”
Scores of volunteer programs serving seniors and people with disabilities already exist, but most are small and many older adults and their families don’t know about them. How they’ll interact with the Care Corps is not yet clear.
One of the largest is Seniors Corps, run by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Through its Senior Companion program, volunteers age 55 and older visit needy older adults and help them with tasks such as shopping or paying bills. About 10,500 volunteers spend 15 to 20 hours a week, on average, serving 33,000 seniors through this program.
Recent research from Senior Corps demonstrates that volunteers receive benefits while giving to others ― a finding confirmed by a large body of research. After two years of service, 88% of Senior Corps volunteers reported feeling less isolated, while 78% said they felt less depressed.
To learn if Service Corps’ companion program is available near you, use this new tool on its website. The group also offers less intensive services to 300,000 older adults and people with disabilities through its Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
To learn about other volunteer programs in your community, contact a local senior center, a nearby Area Agency on Aging or your county’s department of aging, experts suggest. ACL’s Eldercare Locator can help you identify these organizations. Another source is the National Volunteer Caregiving Network, which lists about 700 programs, most of them church-based, on its website.
“Volunteer caregiving can make the difference between someone having quality of life and not having any at all,” said Inez Russell, board chair of the organization. She’s also the founder of Friends for Life, a Texas program that offers volunteer aid to seniors trying to live independently and that reaches out to seniors who don’t have family members on birthdays and holidays, among other services. Altogether, the two programs reach about 4,000 people a year.
In Montpelier, Vt., Joan Black, who’s 88 and lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment, has been a member of Onion River Exchange ― a time bank ― for 10 years. Onion River members contribute goods and services (a ride to the airport, a homemade casserole, a newly knit baby sweater) to the time bank and receive goods and services in exchange. For years, Black gave out information about the exchange at farmers markets and other community events ― her way of banking credits.
It’s a form of volunteerism that “creates a sense of community for many people,” said Edisa Muller, chairwoman of the Onion River board.
For Black, who lives on a small fixed income and can’t vacuum, scrub her tub, dust her wooden furniture or shovel the driveway that leads to her apartment, participating in the time bank has become a way to meet new people and remain integrated with the community.
“I like a tidy house: When things are out of order, I’m out or order,” she said. “I don’t believe I’d be able to do everything I do or live the way I do without their help.”
Republished with permission from Kaiser Health News, https://khn.org/news/drumbeat-builds-for-a-peace-corps-of-caregivers/
The Future of Care Work: Improving the Quality of America’s Fastest-Growing Jobs
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently published a report entitled The Future of Care Work: Improving the Quality of America’s Fastest-Growing Jobs.
Care jobs are not the most desired positions in the U.S. labor market. They frequently have low wages, limited or no benefits, high injury risk, and unpredictable schedules. By raising pay and increasing benefits, it is predicted that these care positions will attract persons who will provide more quality care and employers will be able to retain these workers longer.
This report examines the potential impact of changes in job distribution and the growth of paid adult care work on women’s employment quality in the future. It analyzes the paid adult care workforce focusing on three care occupations—home health care aides and personal care aides (jointly referred to as “home care aides” and certified nursing assistants (CNAs), who work in institutional settings such as nursing homes and hospitals. It then explores key markers of job quality, considers how the low quality of care jobs affects care recipients and workers, and examines the potential effects of technology on care jobs in the future. Drawing on a literature review, expert interviews, and analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and National Health Interview Survey. The full report can be found here. Here are some of the findings:
■ The need for paid adult care is rapidly increasing as the U.S. population ages, with the population growth expected to be especially large among adults aged 85 and older.
■ Women make up a large majority of paid adult care workers (88 percent of adult care workers in “home-based” or “home care” settings and 85 percent in institutional settings).
■ About half of women paid adult care workers do have some college education or a college degree. Poverty rates among the paid care workforce, however, remain high. In 2017, 52 percent of female adult care workers in home care settings were poor or near poor.
■ Many paid adult care workers have family caregiving responsibilities in addition to the paid care work they do.
The Low Quality of Care Jobs Will Likely Perpetuate the Care Crisis
■ Median annual earnings for paid adult care workers are well below the national average for working women and men. In 2017, median annual earnings for full-time, year-round women home care workers were $23,500 (data are not available for men due to small sample size), compared with $40,000 for all working women.
■ 67% of all women who provide adult care in home care settings earn less than $15 an hour, compared with 41% of all working women. Care workers often lack clearly defined working hours and control over their schedules and are likely to have fewer than full-time hours.
■ Only 13% of women adult care workers in home-based settings and 21% in institutional settings have a pension plan. More women care workers have employer-provided health insurance (24% in home care and 41% in institutional care), but these shares are much lower than for the working female population overall.
■ Only 53% of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides have access to paid sick days, compared with 65% of all wage and salary workers.
■ Care workers may encounter safety issues on the job, including harassment and assault at work. The work they perform is also physically taxing and can lead to injury on the job.
■ The low wages and limited access to benefits of paid adult care workers leaves many struggling to build economic security and without the resources to pay for the training and education that might help them advance to better jobs, as well as cover the costs of their own care later in life. The poor quality of care jobs also leads to lower retention rates. Higher quality care jobs can both address labor market inequalities and help to ensure an adequate supply of workers to meet the need for long-term care.
The report goes on to discuss how technology may affect the quality and availability of care jobs. Additionally, the report makes recommendations on how to improve care jobs. READ MORE HERE.
Can 3D Printed Homes Help Address the Need for Affordable Housing?
The company NewStory partnered with Icon out of Austin to develop the 3D tools and technology to ‘print’ entire communities of homes up to 2,000 square feet each. According to Icon, the homes can be built quicker and with less waste than a traditional home. Homes that are 600-800 square feet can be built in about 24 hours at a cost of about $4,000, according to Icon. Learn more by visiting the NewStory or Icon websites.
First 3D permitted house built in the United States. The build was in Austin 2018.
In Support of Family Caregivers: A Snapshot of Five States
Family and unpaid caregivers play a foundational role in the care of older adults with complex health needs and disabling conditions by assisting with a wide range of household, self-care, and medical tasks that are necessary for health, function, and community living. According to the Congressional Budget Office, family caregivers produce 80% of the total economic value of community-based long-term services and supports for older adults. We recognize that many Americans support aging family members who do not have disabling conditions. Public funds are mainly used to support family caregivers who provide care for health or function reasons. State funds are typically focused on populations with a relatively high degree of impairment and will be the focus of this report.
Facing the reality of caregiving today, states are building family caregiving into their service delivery systems—both to support caregivers and extend care to the aging population. This report gives the broad state policymaker audience insights into a handful of states that have advanced policies and programs in support of family caregivers.
Despite conceptual appreciation of the importance of recognizing and addressing the needs of caregiving families, little is known about best practices in state and federal policy.
READ MORE about this study and recommended lessons for state policy makers.
Caregiving Hacks and DIY Tips to Support Caregivers and Caregiving
AARP has posted several videos on tips, tricks and hacks that can help caregivers and their families. Don’t see your favorite tip? There is a link to submit your idea so you can help other caregivers! CLICK HERE
Rubber bands put around a drink glass = instant no-slip grip!
2019 Caregiver Resource Directory from DoD/Warrior Care
The 2019 Caregiver Resource Directory (CRD), from DoD Military Caregiver Support, has officially been released. The annual update includes 114 pages of thoroughly vetted resources, organizations, agencies, and programs for Veterans and Caregivers. The directory is an extensive source of information for childcare, education and training, healthcare needs, legal assistance, rest and relaxation, peer support, mentoring, and more.
Valuing the Invaluable 2019 Update: Charting a Path Forward
This month AARP Public Policy Institute updated their ‘Valuing the Invaluable’ report on caregiving. With 1 in 3 people in the United States over 50 years old, and 20% of the total population will be 65 or older by 2030, there is a good chance you will be in the position of caregiver, if you haven’t already.
Caregiving can be complex and puts a lot of demands on a family. With families having fewer children, living in different regions/states/countries and the need to continue employment to support their own retirement the role of caregiving can become overwhelming very quickly.
This report looks at the economic value of family caregiving. According to the AARP report, in 2017 there were about 41 million family caregivers in the U.S. These caregivers provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care at a value of about $470 billion.
Without family caregivers, the strain to care for these older adults would be unimaginable. When it comes to costs—who would pay? With a home care workforce that is underpaid and has many vacancies now—who would do the work?
VISIT THE REPORT to see the highlights, caregiving trends and actions needed to help caregiving families.
Caregivers Count Too! Toolkit—Family Caregiver Alliance
An Online Toolkit to Help Practitioner's Assess the Needs of Family Caregivers
Now more than ever, involving family caregivers is a necessary part of working with older people and adults with disabilities in all practice settings. As our population ages, more people with chronic and disabling conditions are choosing to live at home or in the community, launching their family members and close friends into action as caregivers.
The toolkit is broken up into sections . . .
If you prefer reading offline on your computer (or printing out a copy of the Toolkit to read later), you can download the entire Toolkit here.
FCOA Advocacy Initiative 2020
The Florida Council on Aging Board of Trustees voted to continue the Advocacy Initiative. This will be our 12th year FCOA will take an active roll in advocating on behalf of General Revenue funded home and community based programs. These programs are an important component of the long-term care continuum.
In mid September the Florida Department of Elder Affairs submitted their Legislative Budget Request to the Governor. The Florida Council on Aging fully supports their request to serve people on the waitlist for services. Here is the 2020 request:
- Alzheimer’s Diseases Initiative (ADI) - $3.6 million to serve an additional 308 people
- Community Care for the Elderly (CCE) - $6 million to serve an additional 712 people
- Home Care for the Elderly (HCE) - $1 million to serve an additional 242 people
- Local Service Programs (LSP) – Recommend continuation funding $2,472/person
The proposed increase of $10.6 million increase will serve an additional 1,262 (2%) frail older adults from the waitlist.
In November, FCOA and Partners held an advocacy summit in St. Petersburg.
ABOVE Left to Right: Jamie Huysman, PhD, WellMed; Margaret Lynn Duggar, FCOA, Charlotte McHenry, Senior Connection Center; Ann Marie Winter, Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas; Jemith Rosa, CARES; and Bryan Eckhart, Hillsborough County Aging Services. BELOW: Picture of attendees at the Summit.
The Conagra Brands Foundation invites U.S. based nonprofit organizations to submit one online letter of intent (LOI) annually. The LOI must strategically align with our core areas of focus which include: food access, nutrition education, cooking skills, healthy and active lifestyles and select urban agricultural programs that have a clear community focus and provide entrepreneurial skills to help individuals participate in the farm-to-fork economy. Nonprofit organizations based in the USA are eligible to submit one online Letter of Intent (LOI) between December 1 and March 1.
Environmental Influences on Aging: Effects of Extreme Weather and Disaster Events on Aging Processes (PAR-19-249, National Institute on Aging, in conjunction with other agencies, application deadlines March 9, 2020; July 7, 2020; November 9, 2020; and March 8, 2021). Together with the companion FOA (PAR-19-250) that focuses on how extreme weather and disaster events impact older adults, these FOAs will help to explicate the behavioral, biological, epigenetic, genetic, neurological and socioecological processes that affect the aging process. The ultimate goal is to improve the health and well-being of older adults via increased knowledge about extreme weather and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
The Walmart Foundation is accepting applications through its Community Grant Program. Through the program, grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations in the service area of individual Walmart stores in the areas of hunger relief and healthy eating, health and human services, quality of life, education, community and economic development, diversity and inclusion, public safety, and environmental sustainability. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through December 31, 2019.
Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowships in Aging Research. This program was developed to address the current concerns about an adequate funding base for postdoctoral fellows (MD, MD/PhD and PhD) who specifically direct their research towards basic aging mechanisms and/or translational findings that have direct benefits to human aging. Postdoctoral fellows at all levels of training are eligible. Up to ten one-year fellowships of $60,000 will be awarded in 2020.
Create the Good Honoring Heroes Contest is your opportunity to shine a spotlight on a non-profit organization serving veterans in your community or on a veteran who has made a difference in your life. Your entry could win the $5,000 grand prize! Enter by sharing a brief essay (and photo) about:
- The impact of a 501(c)3 organization serving veterans in your community;
- The difference a veteran has made in your life; or
- The impact you have seen firsthand from a military training or deployment.
Submit your entry by the December 31, 2019 deadline. All entries will be featured on the Create the Good site and can be voted for by the general public. The 10 entries that receive the most votes by Dec 31, 2019 will be the finalists. The winner will then be chosen from those among those finalists by a committee of volunteer judges.
Guidelines for entries
- Your essay can be no longer than 500 words and your photo no larger than 5 MB.
- Entries will be judged on the quality of the submission, the relevance of the submission and the impact detailed in the essay.
- You can only submit one story per day, but there is no limit to the number of stories entered during the submission phase.
The submission must be original work (or must have the rights from the photographer to make the submission), created solely by entrant and not created professionally; must not have been previously published, released or distributed in any form; must not have won any award; and must not infringe the copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other personal or proprietary rights of any person or entity.