November is Caregiver’s Month – Celebrate Yourself!

Following are some very interesting facts about caregivers in the United States.    Here are some very interesting facts about caregivers:


  • 39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30% in 2010
  • Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up.  15 million family caregivers are caring for 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer’s
  • It is NOT just elderly who need caregivers.  The number of special needs children is rising too.
  • Wounded veterans need care too.  As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or other wounds and illnesses.
  • It’s not just the women doing the caregiving.  Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men, 40% of women).  36% of younger Americans between 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well.
  • Family caregiving is serious work.  Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved one.
  • Family caregivers are the backbone of the Nation’s long-tern care system.  Family caregivers provide $450 BILLION worth of unpaid care each year.  That is more than total Medicaid funding and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.

These facts are from the Caregiver Action Network – – 202-772-5050

You are a very vital part of your loved ones life.  Too many times, caregivers just do what needs to be done without thinking they are doing something special.  After all, these are our loved ones we take care of but YOU ARE SPECIAL and so is what you do.

Veteran’s Benefits – Check Them Out

Many people overlook this possible way to pay for elder care.  Not only does the veteran possibly qualify, so does the spouse.  Below is some information but the quickest way to find out if your loved one qualifies if to get the DD-214 (discharge paper) of the veteran and call your local Veteran’s Service Officer.  He/she is usually located in the county seat.

Below is some information I have taken from the internet to help you.

Veterans who are at least 65 years-old and who served during war time (though not necessarily in actual combat) may be eligible for financial assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) that can be used to help pay for care. Spouses and surviving spouses of wartime veterans are also often eligible. Veteran’s benefits can make all the difference for families who struggling to pay for care.

*Veterans who are under 65 but rated 100% disabled can also qualify for the VA Pension described in the article.

When you had to serve:

The foremost eligibility requirement is the service requirement. The veteran must have served at least 1 day during wartime. The dates that the VA considers wartime are below:

World War II:12/7/1941 through 12/31/1946

Korean Conflict:6/27/1950 through 1/31/1955

Vietnam War: 8/5/1964 through 5/7/1975, although veterans who served in Vietnam itself (“in country”) as early as 2/28/1961 may also qualify.

Gulf War: 8/2/1990 to date to be determined by U.S. government

These dates can be found on your DD-214

Three different types of help:

There are three tiers of VA benefits for older wartime veterans and their dependents. Basic Pension can be considered the first tier, Housebound the second tier, and Aid and Attendance the third tier. Award amounts increase as the tier increases, and the tiers are based on the needs of the applicant:

  • Basic Pension: Basic Pension is designed to function as cash assistance for low income veterans and their dependents, so applicants may be healthy, but must have a very low income.
  • Housebound Benefit: For the second tier, Housebound, assistance with day to day activities must be needed “regular basis.”
  • Aid and Attendance: Assistance must be required on a “daily basis.”

Depending on the veteran’s care needs and financial status, Aid and Attendance can provide $2,000 or more towards the cost of assisted living or other types of senior care. Even surviving spouses of wartime veterans may qualify for related benefits. Considering the relatively high cost of senior care, the benefit can be a godsend for families and seniors who would have had great difficulty affording senior care otherwise.

Financial Eligibility

Assistance from the VA is “means tested,” which means that only people who seem to genuinely need these benefits will receive an award. It also means that benefits are determined based on the applicant’s income, assets, and needs.

Applicants whose countable incomes are over maximum thresholds, including their homes, may still qualify, depending on their age and the amount of their monthly allowable medical benefit. In situations that are borderline, it can’t hurt to apply, as decisions are largely made on a case-by-case basis:

I found this very confusing but my veteran’s service officer was very helpful.

Where to go to apply:

To apply for VA health care or determine eligibility, contact a Veterans Benefits Office or VA health care facility (find the nearest location at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).


Help I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up – Help Pendants

You have all seen the advertisements for these help pendants.  There are many companies out there and they all have different offerings so I will not recommend a specific one.  BUT, they are terrific in reassuring your loved one AND you that if something bad happens, someone will be there to help.

Generally you can get a necklace, bracelet or both.  There are normally waterproof so they do not need to be removed even to bathe.

We got mom’s first one after she had been hospitalized.  She was still in fairly good health but with her living alone, I felt the money was well spent.  In that case, the company came out and installed the unit but it was simple.  There was a small receiver about the size of a box of greeting cards that you plugged in to the wall and then the phone was hooked into it.  When it was installed, we made a test call by pressing the button to make sure it worked.  A voice come out of the box and called my mother by name and asked if she needed fire, medical or other help.  We just said we were testing and they said it was working great.

We had previously filled in Mom’s information with a list of three people who could be called in an emergency before they called 911.  They call those numbers and if no one can respond quickly (if they are at work, out of town, etc.) then they call 911.  We choose to put down three family members that lived in the same town with Mom but anyone that would be familiar with your loved one would work.

The first time that Mom used it she had fallen in the bathroom and could not get back up.  She pushed the button and calls went out to my brother and both his daughters.  All responded and had her up and back in bed within 5 minutes.  Mom much preferred them calling family members instead of 911 since she “didn’t want to cause a fuss”.

These pendants can be used for medical emergencies, fire, prowlers or any event that makes the person afraid.

When we moved mom we had to change companies as the previous one did not work in my state.  This time we got both a necklace and a bracelet.  It also came with a lockbox that hung on the door that we could leave a key locked in.  The company would give the police or fire department the code so they could unlock the door as opposed to breaking in.  What a great idea!

Give careful consideration to who you put on the contact list so that hopefully one of them would be available most time.  For example, we did not put both my brother and his wife as they are generally together if not at work.  With everyone’s life being busy, it is impossible to have it covered all the time.

Mom was hesitant to use the pendant as she didn’t want to bother people.  It embarrassed her that she was falling.  After multiple falls at home when she would not use it, we had to move her up to my home.  I explained to mom that it didn’t cost to have the police or ambulance come unless the ambulance transported her but she would lay on the floor (sometimes overnight) until she either was rested enough to get up herself or someone stopped by.

Hopefully, your loved one will see the need for this and not see it as a nuisance.

It can literally be a lifesaver.

Has your family used one and did it do what you expected it to do?

Very Interesting Article About FLU shot

From time to time I see articles that look good to me.  I found this one today and thought I would post it.  I have no idea if these theories are sound or not.  I have absolutely no medical background but it seemed to have valid points.  Read it and see for yourself.  As always….CONSULT a DOCTOR for facts.


Shingles Shot – Does your loved one need it?

Shingles can be a very painful and irritating time.

Shingles usually starts as a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7–10 days and clears up within 2–4 weeks.

Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears.

Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision.

Other symptoms of shingles can include:  temperature, headache, chills, nausea

Shingles is not necessary a deadly disease but I have heard people describe it as extremely painful.  If you have had chicken pox, the virus is in your body.

Mom’s doctor suggested one for mom.  In the small town she lived in, we had to go to the pharmacy and pick it up.  It was refrigerated so we had to be at the doctor’s office within one hour.  Mom said it wasn’t the simplest shot she had ever had but it wasn’t horrible.

One thing that struck me odd was that mom had to pay over $100.00 out of her own pocket for it.  This has been a few years ago so Medicare or private insurance might be paying for it now.  Regardless after reading about the symptoms, it was worth it for mom.

I also had an elderly gentleman that I take care of that had the shot and got shingles anyway.  It might have had to do with his condition as he does dialysis and that could have affected it.

Once again, information from the CDC:

Shingles Vaccination: What You Need to Know

The vaccine for shingles (Zostavax®) is recommended for use in people 60 years old and older to prevent shingles. The older a person is, the more severe the effects of shingles typically are, so all adults 60 years old or older should get the shingles vaccine.

The shingles vaccine is specifically designed to protect people against shingles and will not protect people against other forms of herpes, such as genital herpes. The shingles vaccine is not recommended to treat active shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia (pain after the rash is gone) once it develops.

Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease.

Some people should NOT get shingles vaccine.

  • A person who has ever had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
  • A person who has a weakened immune system because of
    • HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system,
    • treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids,
    • cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy,
    • cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

Remember to talk with your medical person before making the decision.  Your loved ones condition will determine whether it would be good for them.

Have you or someone you known had shingles?  Was it as bad as they said?