Caregiver USA Corporation’s Mission Stemmed from Personal Experience

Jinji and Shinji Yue’s decision to start Caregiver USA Corporation was rooted in personal experience with caregiving. Both men helped to care for their father when he was dying of cancer, and Jinji also helped care for his then future wife’s mother in her final days battling lung cancer.

“I was 16 when my father was diagnosed with liver cancer,” Jinji said. “Shinji was 20 and in the army, and he would get some nights off to come visit and help, but I was there every day.”

The family lived in Singapore, and there, at that time, most cancer care was delivered in a hospital inpatient setting.

“It was still very important for us to be there with him as much as possible,” Jinji said. “His chemotherapy treatments were very harsh, and he suffered a great deal from side effects, including extreme fatigue and frequent vomiting. We did our best to keep him as comfortable as possible.”

As they watched their father struggle and suffer, Jinji and Shinji suffered too.

“Caregiving is emotional,” Jinji said. “It’s very tiring, and our anxiety level was very high. During my dad’s first round of cancer treatment, I was in denial. The year before, my grandfather had passed, but he had been old, so while the loss was sad, it was expected at that point. But my dad should have had many more years of life left ahead of him. He had always been the pillar of my life. I thought he would recover.”

While initially hoping the cancer treatments would be successful, Jinji and Shinji and their mother saw growing evidence to the contrary.

“We saw his slow decline,” Jinji said. “Then, in his final two months, he was very frail and was in and out of consciousness. He died about eight months after his diagnosis. I was 17. It took me years after he was gone to accept the reality of losing him.”

About five years after losing his father, Jinji was a student at Ohio State University, working towards his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.

“I received a call from my girlfriend, Siewling,” Jinji said. “She still lived in Singapore at the time. She called and told me her mom had just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and had less than one year to live. I decided to take time off from school to go home and help care for her.”

Jinji was able to apply what he had learned through his personal experience with caregiving to help Siewling and her family.

“I saw the condition Siewling’s mother was in,” Jinji said, “And I Siewling and her brothers were in the same shoes I had been in. I suspected she had less than a year to live, maybe six months. She was in the hospital a lot, and I spent a lot of time there with her and her family. I tried to give advice and help out however I could.”

Fast forward to the present, and Jinji and Shinji are applying what they learned through their personal experiences with caregiving to help others.

“Having had the opportunity to care for two people who were dying let me appreciate tremendously what caregiving is all about,” Jinji said. “When we started Caregiver USA, we did so because there are a lot of people who need help with caregiving. In our experience, we just had family members rotating constantly, with no extra help, and we really could have used more assistance. Sometimes you just need a break. We wanted to offer more choices to find help. And we wanted to help ensure access to high quality help.

“We created a web-based platform, bookacare.com that allows those seeking healthcare services for themselves or loved ones to find, evaluate, hire and review qualified, experienced and accredited health-care professionals. Our services can be accessed conveniently online from a computer or mobile applications and through social media. Information is readily accessible via iPhones and tablets. We even provide the opportunity for caregivers and care seekers to review one another. Care seekers can enjoy peace of mind in hiring a caregiver who has received positive reviews, is insured and has passed an extensive background check. The caregivers who get the best reviews will be hired the most often, so they benefit too. “ Care seekers also can get to know their caregivers better before hiring them and welcoming them into their homes.

One way to improve the quality of caregivers available is to ensure they receive fair financial compensation.

“You get what you pay for,” Jinji said. “Many home care agencies have a very high turnover because nurses and nurses’ aides can barely earn a living wage. They receive inadequate pay and no benefits, and most of them operate completely independently, never interacting with their professional peers..

“Through our business model, we are able to help our caregivers receive fair compensation and feel valued. We empower them to perform at their best. As independent contractors, they are their own bosses. We also provide a lot of training to both our contracted caregivers and our full-time employees, and we can provide an office environment that encourages team interaction. This supports the goal of all of our caregivers knowing and living our core mission.”

Through bookacare.com and our brick and mortar agencies, Caregiver USA aims not only to lighten the caregiving load for families, but to provide a rewarding professional experience for its caregivers.

“The caregiving experience I had made me realize the importance of caregiving, its challenges and also its emotional rewards,” Jinji said. “Our mission is very simple. We want to create value and happiness in caring for others. You want to be happy when providing care. The drive to do so has to come from within. But then to avoid burning out in doing so, you need to be supported and rewarded.”

 

Caregiving – a Rewarding Career

Hi, it’s me — Christine. I told you last time that I was using some of the skills I learned in Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training in my new career as a caregiver entrepreneur with CGUSA. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been going great so far!

Not that caring for John, 72, with Alzheimer’s isn’t a challenge. It definitely is, but nothing I can’t handle. And I know I am really making a difference in not only his life, but his wife Anna’s, 65, whom I told you last time, has high blood pressure and diabetes and was becoming exhausted under the stress of trying to take care of both her health and John’s.

Then there’s the relief I’ve been giving to Mary Jane. She’s John and Anna’s daughter — I am guessing she is about 45 years old. Mary Jane has a really full plate with a high-powered managerial job, a husband, three kids and two dogs. She lives two hours away and had been commuting back and forth between her family and her parents’ every weekend for three months, until I started working with them.

Mary Jane is the one who actually hired me through the CGUSA website, and now she, along with her five brothers and sisters all living in other states, are all chipping in to pay the cost of my coming in to John and Anna’s home to help out. I mentioned last time I am going over there twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 am to 2 pm., and getting paid $18 an hour. This is the rate I chose and the hours I picked from the git-go, so I am able to get my kids up (Lucas, 6 , and Mia, almost 2), give them breakfast, and drop them off to school or – in Mia’s case — to daycare or my Mom’s

But more about John. He really is a sweet man, but he gets a little flustered and upset with himself at times because he can’t remember things like he used to. You know, little stuff like where he put his reading glasses, or his coffee cup, or the different states he and Anna’s six children live in. When that happens, he just kind of gets frazzled and a little upset, but it doesn’t take much to get him calmed down, because I locate these items pretty easily (he isn’t moving around that much) and I just tell him that son Jack moved to Illinois from Ohio only a few months back, so it’s not that easy to remember where Jack is living now – no big deal. 🙂

John and I also “connect” through humor. He knows he has Alzheimer’s – he remembers it some of the time, not all, of course. Sometimes, when he has his good, lucid moments, he makes jokes about his condition. I just smile. Then he tells me an old joke off the top of his head. Sure, some of them are corny, and he has repeated several of them more than once, but the jokes lift John’s mood and get him engaged and thinking, so I always giggle no matter how many times I’ve heard the punchline. And, actually, some of the jokes really are funny. “Have you heard the one about the three Irishmen in the bar who…”

Wait a minute, I’m getting too carried away with this! 🙂

John’s Alzheimer’s is in the early stages. Mary Jane told me he was only diagnosed less than a year ago, after a scary episode where he couldn’t find his way back home after taking a walk. Like most patients in the beginning of the disease, John’s long-term memory is still pretty good. He can talk about the “old days,” back in the ‘50s all day long. It’s his short-term memory — things that happened in the last few days, or weeks — that are giving him trouble.

Right now, because I am so new as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant), I told you before I wanted to kind of ease my way into my new caregiver career, as opposed to just jumping in feet first; (I’m the same way when I get in a swimming pool; I creep slowly into the deeper water, so I can get used to it. No cannonballs for me!) But now that I have been working with this family, I know they have other needs that require more skilled medical training.

Pretty soon, I am going to upgrade my services to match what my CNA certification provides, for example, giving John a bath, working with his physician or a Registered Nurse (RN) manager to provide some kind of specialized Alzheimer’s memory care stimulation. Once my current contract term is over and up for renewal, I’ll be asking for a raise to $20 an hour for these additional services. Mary Jane has already said she is more than happy to pay it.  

Currently, I am doing mostly companion-type, non-medical work, such as light housekeeping, meal prep, and making sure John takes his meds and “stays out of trouble” while Anna lies down to rest, goes to a doctor’s appointment, or just meets her lady friends for lunch once in a while.

Anna says over and over how much she appreciates me being there. When I arrived for my first visit three weeks ago, she was so worried and stressed out. Every little thing seemed to upset her. Now, I am seeing her smile a lot more, and able to relax. Knowing I have something to do with giving her peace of mind makes me feel really good about my work.

Speaking of work, I am still a manager at the fast-food place I talked about earlier. I mostly work early evening/night shifts and Daniel watches the kids. It’s a little much right now, balancing two jobs and family life, but since this is going so well with John and Anna, I plan to give notice in the next couple weeks at the restaurant so I can expand my caregiver hours to maybe 16 hours a week.

Did I mention the CaregiverUSA apps and website payment system are really awesome? It is so easy – here’s how it works. The care seeker and caregiver agree on a certain amount to be paid during a given time period, say a week, and then the care seeker pays the entire amount for the week upfront, ( i.e. escrows it ) via a third party credit card handling company affiliated with the CGUSA website. The caregiver (that would be me) can then log on and see the money in there. Once the care seeker gives the official OK, the money is transferred to the caregiver’s bank account, minus the 10 percent service charge I mentioned in my last post. In truth, CGUSA gets paid less than 2% of these payment transactions, the bulk goes to the bank handling escrow and payment.

Anyway… considering how much I am liking my new caregiver role in the home healthcare industry, I feel inspired to go for my Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification at some point and move up in my career. I may even decide to add a second family (besides John and Anna) depending on what is going on with my own family and their schedules. Seriously, joining the CaregiverUSA network is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far, other than marrying Daniel and giving birth to Lucas and Mia of course!  

If you are looking for a career that has flexibility in hours, and can even allow you to set your own price for services, I totally encourage you to explore CaregiverUSA. With a website like this that can help you find work (and get paid) so easily, you can have more work-home life balance and feel great about truly being able to help other people as well.  

Find Flexible and Convenient Work Opportunities as a Caregiver

My name is Sarah… pleased to connect with you online. As I approach my 46th birthday, I am “officially” entering the 21st century era of communications by finally getting around to trying my hand at blogging (better late than never, as they say!) Given the internal challenges I have been facing lately, I expect it will be a therapeutic exercise in laying out my situation and clarifying my thoughts. Meanwhile, I’m hoping you, the reader, will find this post to be helpful in some way as, together, we explore the possibility of entering the home healthcare or personal home healthcare market via the tools CaregiverUSA provides.

Here’s my backstory to give you some context. My husband David, a mid-level accounting manager, and I have been married nearly 19 years and have been busy rearing our two sons, Mike, now 16, and Zach, 14, at our home in a quiet middle-class Columbus, Ohio suburb. While we’ve had our ups and downs like everyone else, overall we have been blessed with good health, a vibrant family life, wonderful friends, and steady employment for David.

I must say David is great – he has always been totally supportive of my decision to resign from my frenzied position as a marketing manager for a major telecom company to be a stay-at-home mom, starting at around age 30. After all, what better investment can parents make than funneling their energy and gifts into their children’s well-being? As we see it, our job is to nurture and develop our sons into caring, responsible human beings who will, hopefully, make the world a better place to live.

To this end, I have proudly and happily worn the multiple hats of full-time homemaker for the last 16 years: layperson nurse, laundress, organic vegetable gardener, bargain shopper, home decorator, wardrobe consultant, meal planner, chief cook and bottle-washer, chauffeur, amateur psychologist, Cub scout den mother, sports team spectator, PTA chairwoman, social director, church bake sale point person, school basketball team fundraiser, holiday event planner, tutor, and, last but not least, housekeeper and organizer. In fact, I have been accused of being a “neat freak” by the men in my family. So what if I store the canned goods in alphabetical order?

But, I admit, kids grow up fast and things have changed; the boys don’t need me as much anymore. Mike is able to drive himself and his brother to and from school and their various sports and social activities. Mike got his license the day after his 16th birthday – we were so proud! It stings a little that they are at that phase where they really don’t want mom hanging around too much, particularly when the boys are with their friends.

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A mother explores her options to be a caregiver with CaregiverUSA.

So, I’ve found I am kind of restless, rather at loose ends at this crossroads in my life’s journey. This means it is time for a new challenge, a positive change. Besides, as David says, “How many times do you need to dust the shower curtains?” David thinks I need to get out of the house and find something I enjoy doing. Granted, while my husband does make reasonably good money, we both realize that with the prospect of putting two boys through college looming on the near horizon, it would be wise to figure out something for me to do that will allow me to put away some cash each week toward their higher education pursuits. I’m sure you’ve heard, in this election year, how college tuition costs are going through the roof! I know we’ll get through it, but we should be proactive in finding ways to increase our household income.

Of course, I’ve ruminated quite a bit about what I should do. Considering how much I enjoyed my former career in marketing, I always thought I could return to it eventually, once my children became more independent. But so much has changed since I left the industry at age 30 – in technology, in new best practices, etc. The learning curve would be very steep. Plus, I’ve heard so much about age bias in hiring (let’s face it – I’m well over 40, it happens) so it’s possible I might hit some resistance re-entering that particular job market. Of course, I know I could prevail, but the thing is, I have to really want it.

Truthfully, I don’t relish the thought of taking on a stressful position, and that certainly comes with the territory in a marketing career. I am really only interested in working part-time, and I considered healthcare, but have decided that at this stage in life, I don’t want to submit to the late-night study sessions and rigors of academia all over again. Because I love healthy cooking so much, I also toyed with the idea of opening my own “organic only” cafe, but David and I eventually decided the hours involved and the financial risk would ultimately not be the best choice for our family.

After much soul-searching, I’ve figured out something I’ve known inside all along, but never articulated before. The bottom line is: “I need to be needed.”

But please read on, because an exciting new development is unfolding. Ironically, despite all the things I have been doing the last several years to take care of others, it never crossed my mind that I would consider becoming a professional part-time caregiver – after all, that’s what I’m doing on this CGUSA website. But life has a way of opening up new possibilities where you least expect them.

Long story short: I love Facebook and these days, I am probably on there a bit too much. Several hours ago, in a light moment, I posted a funny meme about “Pre-empty Nest Syndrome.” It got several likes, which led to an old high school friend, Ashley, messaging me about her new career as a part-time personal caregiver and suggesting it may be good for me, too. Ashley used to tease and call me “Mother Sarah” way back in the day (I loved playing with little kids, and I would always be offering up home remedies to my friends’ random case of sniffles or sore muscles after a softball game). I asked her how she got into this field, given she had been an insurance adjuster for many years, and she told me about how she was able to easily find flexible and convenient work opportunities as a caregiver via CaregiverUSA.

 

Join CaregiverAsia to monetize and optimize your free time

I was interested, of course, but mentioned that I do not have any kind of nursing certification. No worries, said Ashley, neither does she! We actually jumped off Fcaebook and onto our phones, where we talked about how she was being paid to go into different people’s homes and cook, clean, organize, babysit – all the things I have been doing for years as a homemaker. She was so enthused about convincing me to do this I finally had to beg off the call so I could take action.

You’ve made your case, Ashley, this home caregiver situation is definitely worth looking into!

I am happy to report that I did not procrastinate. I hung up the phone immediately and went to the CaregiverUSA site, which is very easy to navigate, and just signed up, taking about 40 minutes to throw together and submit an appropriate resume highlighting my homemaker skills. I have already received the email acknowledgement for my application.

Ashley says they move quickly, and told me I can expect to hear from them in a few days regarding the requisite background check, setting up my profile, etc. She described CGUSA as sort of a home healthcare match-making service, and told me there are a lot of people on the site looking for help with elderly parents, Alzheimer’s patients, child care, housekeeping and errands during illness. Of course, skilled nursing services from Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) are also in demand. Ashley said in ten days or less, I should be able to start looking at the CGUSA electronic job board for care seekers in my area, and, conversely, have potential employers contact me via specific searches on the website database.

Can all this really be happening so quickly? Absolutely. In this amazing human journey, we’ve all got to “seize the day.” I am so looking forward to seeing how fate will bring me together with “just the right people” at “just the right time” so we can learn, grow, and help each other through life’s joys, trials, and tribulations.

Strength Training Can Help You Look and Feel Younger

Looking for the fountain of youth? Pick up a set of dumbbells, a kettle bell or a resistance band. Strength training offers a multitude of benefits, including ramping up your metabolism to help lose or maintain weight.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it can also be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them:

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • obesity
  • back pain
  • depression
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Strength training can help you look and feel younger.

Strength Train to Maintain a Healthy Weight

The CDC asserts that strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

Strength Train to Feel Better

Regular strength training can help improve balance and reduce fall risk, decrease arthritis pain and strengthen bones, thus reducing fracture risk. It can also improve glucose control, improve sleep quality and state of mind and support better heart health.

Common Questions and Answers About Strength Training

Following are some common questions about strength training, and answers from trusted sources:

  • Won’t strength training bulk me up?

This question is most commonly asked by women who fear an overly muscular look. The truth is, to bulk up as a bodybuilder aims to do, you would need to spend a significant amount of time lifting very heavy weights and you would need to be eating a surplus of calories to support building serious muscle mass. You can easily find a strength training program that will help you gain just the right amount of muscle mass to crank up your metabolism and burn stored body fat so you actually end up leaner and tighter. If you combine strength training with a nutrition plan aimed at losing or maintaining weight you will find yourself losing weight or fitting into smaller sizes even if the scale doesn’t move much.

  • I walk/swim/take Zumba classes – isn’t that good enough?

The CDC reports that “While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits — it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance — it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density.”

Still not convinced? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that an increase in muscle that you can’t even see can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.

Michele Brannock, 69, of Upper Arlington, Ohio, picked up her first kettlebell six years ago. She worked with a trainer for six weeks to master proper form and said she has benefitted tremendously from for this particular form of strength training.

“I stand taller now,” she said. “My balance has improved, I have fewer aches and pains. I don’t have the tummy bulge anymore, and my back pain is completely gone. Nothing else I have done exercise wise has helped by back like training with kettle bells.”

So How Do I Get Started?

The National Institute of Health recommends doing strength training exercises for all of your major muscle groups on two or more days a week. You should not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Your muscles need 48 hours or more to recover in between strength sessions. So you could either do a full-body strength training routine three days a week – for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or if you prefer to keep your strength sessions shorter, you might break them up into upper-body strength and lower-body strength sessions and work your upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your lower body Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Strength training should complement rather than replace cardiovascular exercise, which is also important, as are balance and flexibility training. Here are more tips to help you look and feel younger:

  • Depending on your condition, you might need to start with very light weights – 1-3 lb. dumbbells. For exercises in which your bodyweight already provides some resistance – such as squats and lunges, you might not need to use weights at all – at first. Your goal should be to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift in order to continue to progress.
  • Choose a weight you can lift for 10-15 repetitions. Your first rep should not feel very, very hard, but your final rep should. You want to be able to complete 10-15 repetitions with good form – if you cannot; your weight is too heavy. If you can complete 15 reps and feel like you could still do many more, your weight is too light.
  • Take at least two counts to lift the weights and two counts to lower them.
  • Exhale as you lift the weights, and inhale as you lower them. If you cannot sync your breathing perfectly at first, do not stress about it – the most important thing is to never hold your breath while exercising.
  • Or, check out these recommendations from the CDC.
  • You can also join a local gym or recreation center, sign up for a group fitness class, hire a personal trainer or purchase an exercise DVD – or check one out from the library – if you want additional guidance.

Use the Internet to expand your world – be sure to surf the web safely

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, 58 percent of adults ages 65 and older were using the Internet. There are many benefits to be found online, but there are dangers as well. This article will explore both and offer advice to help you surf the web safely.

Benefits of Internet use

  • Stay connected / reconnect: From e-mail to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, going online offers easy options to keep in touch with friends and family or even connect with former school pals or co-workers.
  • Enjoy a smoother customer service experience: Whether you have a question about your gas bill or need to schedule a service appointment for your vehicle, sometimes hopping online can allow you to avoid a frustrating phone call during which you wait on hold for an extended period of time or have to navigate a frustrating voice-prompt phone system.
  • Tap into a wealth of information right at your fingertips: You can easily research many topics online – from working on your family tree to researching major purchases in advance to learning more about relevant health topics, you can discover a lot by accessing the Internet via your computer, tablet or smart phone. You can even take courses online, whether you want to pursue a degree or certification to change jobs or return to the work force, or you might simply enjoy taking a class because you welcome the challenge and the chance to acquire new knowledge.
  • Find free or cheap entertainment options: Some people save money by giving up cable service and using a service such as Netflix or Hulu to stream television shows and movies to their computers, tablets, smartphones or televisions via the Internet. You might also enjoy watching funny cat videos on YouTube, looking up song lyrics, reading books and magazines online, discovering bloggers you enjoy following and/or playing online games.
  • Shop from the comfort of home: You can find just about anything you normally buy at the store online and save time and gas money by shopping online.
  • Access coupons and other discounts: Many companies offer sales and coupons via their websites, social media pages or e-mail.

Dangers of Internet use

Of course, while there are many benefits to be found online, there are also dangers, so it is important to become savvy about cyber security if you use or are going start or continue Internet use.

Cyber security is general Internet safety, which focuses on protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unintended or unauthorized access, changes or destruction.

“It has been said, just as you use locks to keep criminals out of your home and other personal items, you also need to safeguard and secure your computers and mobile devices such as your cell phone, iPad, etc,” Chief Technical Officer of CaregiverUSA R.E. Dean said.

“Many crimes that occur in real life are now conducted or at least facilitated through the Internet. According to the FBI’s Scams & Safety, many criminals target seniors via e-mails and web sites with scams about charitable donations, auctions, health care and prescription medications. Because they think seniors did not grow up with today’s technology, scammers don’t think seniors will be as savvy about Internet safety and risks. In addition, they feel that seniors are less likely to report scams, because they are simply embarrassed. The best way to protect yourself from scammers is to educate yourself and be proactive.”

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Here are some tips on how to use the internet safely.

How to protect yourself online

The United States Department of Homeland Security offers the following tips for staying safe online:

  • Choose passwords that mean something to you and you only; use strong passwords with eight characters or more that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • If you use social networking sites such as Facebook, be sure to limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
  • Keep in mind that most businesses or organizations don’t ask for your personal information via e-mail. Beware of any requests to update or confirm your personal information.
  • Avoid opening attachments, clicking on links, or responding to e-mail messages from unknown senders or companies that ask for your personal information.
  • Install and regularly update the security programs on your computer, such as anti­-virus, and anti-spyware. These programs can help to protect the information on your computer and can easily be purchased from software companies on the web or at your local office supply store.
  • Beware of “free” gifts or prizes. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • It is important to add only people you know on social media sites and programs such as Skype; adding strangers could expose you and your personal information to scammers.
  • If you seek medical advice online, be sure to find out who is providing the information. Many pharmaceutical companies create websites with information to sell products. Look for sites ending in .edu (for education) or .gov (for government).
  • Avoid accessing your personal or bank accounts from a public computer or kiosk, such as the public library.
  • Don’t reveal personally identifiable information such as your bank account number, social security number or date of birth to unknown sources.
  • When paying a bill online or making an online donation, be sure that you type the website URL into your browser instead of clicking on a link or cutting and pasting it from the email.
  • When shopping online, make sure the web site address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure.
  • Look for the padlock icon at the bottom of your browser, which indicates that the site uses encryption.
  • Type new website URLs directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting from the email.
  • Keep your mobile devices in your possession at all times, and always be aware of your surroundings. Click here for more tips regarding mobile devices.

Visit the Department of Homeland Security cyber programs site for more information including tips and free resources.

Additional helpful web sites through which you can educate yourself about common scams perpetrated online, learn to protect yourself and even report fraud include:

The federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. This site also has information on warning signs of identity theft and what to do if your information is lost or stolen.

  • The Better Business Bureau’s site, is a good place to research stores you plan to shop with online.
  • The FBI’s Scams and Safety site, provides tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from fraud.
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Why the CaregiverUSA site is safe.

How CaregiverUSA keeps you safe on our site

Caregiver USA has taken many steps to make sure your experience on our web site will be a safe one. We make sure that all vendors who partner with us discuss their cyber security policy, PCI Data Security Standards (DSS), and are in compliance with Caregiver USA Security policies.

“There are three levels of cyber security, and we have taken great care to ensure that we have taken every step possible to provide maximum security in all three levels,” Mr. Dean said. “At the basic level, we ensure our content management system updates, plugins, and themes use the latest versions. We encourage our site users to use strong usernames and passwords. We back up our web site and system regularly. We use SSL encryption (https://) and we provide information available for system contacts.

“Advanced level Security includes installing a firewall to block potentially dangerous traffic. In addition, when working with third-party software and vendors, we review their standards, policy and compliance documentations.

“High-Level Security includes HIPAA compliance and separate PHI and non-PHI databases,” Mr. Dean said. “We have a disaster recovery strategy in place and a redundancy of hardware strategy. We have a two-factor authentication via an additional login, security via text, code and e-mail link. We make sure the system file/folder permissions are set up properly and ensure site access permissions and/or IP as needed.”

How CaregiverUSA keeps you safe in “real life”

At CaregiverUSA, we are not only concerned with your safety while using our web site but also in real life. We recognize that you are using our site to seek care for yourself or your loved one that will be delivered in person. We have taken many steps to make sure that the professionals you connect with through our site are people you can trust and feel safe letting into your home – people we would trust with our own families and welcome into our own homes.

CaregiverUSA caregivers are trustworthy professionals dedicated to providing high quality, dependable care. Every staff member at CaregiverUSA has been fully screened and has extensive experience. Prior to hiring any care provider, we:

  • Perform an employment reference check with three references.
  • Conduct verification of licenses, certifications and registration for positions including but not limited to registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), certified nursing assistant (CAN) and home health aide (HHA).
  • Validate work history.
  • Run comprehensive federal, national, state and county-level background checks on all caregivers.

A Fulfilling Caregiving Career

Hi, it’s me, Christine, again.

Hope everybody’s doing OK. As for me, my new career as a caregiver is looking up!

Just want to fill you in real fast in case you missed my first post. Last time, I was talking about how much I was “over” working as a manager in fast-food, and how I just received my CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) credential in Ohio. But then I hit a wall – what’s next? I was looking for a new career path that will allow me to set my own schedule, so I can spend more time with my kids, Lucas, 6, and Mia, 22 months, to give my mom and sisters some relief from always babysitting for me. If I can, I’d love to even choose how much money I can make per hour – I mean, within reason!

Anyway, I googled “part-time nursing assistant jobs” and came across this website, www.caregiverusa.com.  After looking the site over a little bit, I decided to sign up!

So, first I should talk to you about the important business aspects of joining CGUSA before I get to the really good part –getting hired. You should understand that, basically, CGUSA is empowering you to run your own business. That’s right, members are “caregiver entrepreneurs” so to speak, in that I (and, you, if you join) can set your own hours, manage your own time, and establish your own pricing.

I told you last time I filled out the short, “easy-peasy” online application and cut-and-pasted my resume inside it. I sent it off and immediately got an email confirmation from CGUSA that it was received.

Shortly thereafter, I’d say a week or so, I received a notification that CGUSA accepted my application. I was invited to sign up for an annual subscription . . .

Uh oh! I thought, this is where they get you. But hey, I found out the cost to join Caregiver USA is very reasonable. Only $68 a year for caregivers, regardless of the certifications you have. That’ only $5.67 a month. Sweet!

Next, I’m told they need to perform a free background check on me. That’s right, it’s included in my $68 fee, which is a relief! Gotta say, having people verify my social security number and look into my education, employment, any criminal history, etc. is what I expected, since I know people are concerned about whether or not the people coming into their home or that of a loved one has a “record.” I mean, wouldn’t you be? The normal background check is three years, but CGUSA goes back seven. Again, that’s OK. I want to be part of respected caregiver network that has a reputation for making sure its workers are good, honest people.

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Being a caregiver entrepreneur also offers flexibility, freedom and control over your work-life balance.

Of course, I passed the background check. (They didn’t count a couple parking tickets, hahaha!)

 

Did you know CGUSA pays you directly electronically? What’s more, you can look up exactly how much you’ve made after – say – three days, and figure out if you want to accept any extra hours that may be offered. And you know the really good part? They don’t take out any taxes, so you can keep more of what you earn, and “write off” your mileage, any supplies you buy, etc., at the end of the year. You’re an independent contractor. Just be sure to keep track of your receipts to score the extra tax benefits.

There’s real potential to make what I would call good money! Specific rates are kind of determined by where in the country you live. In Ohio, most people set their fee between $18 and $20 an hour. It’s a supply-and-demand business, after all.

You should know Caregiver USA takes credit cards from the care seekers you would be working for and has a highly secure encrypted internet security system through its website and the apps it provides to caregivers. I already told you the annual subscription fee for caregivers to sign up is like, ridiculously low. It makes sense then, that to support the set-up and maintenance of the extensive data base, search features, credit card payment system and all the security bells and whistles, that Caregiver USA needs more than $5.67 a month from its caregivers to pay for all the services it provides. After all, it is running a business! All that being said, it withholds only 10% of caregivers’ weekly earnings to help maintain the site and provide the banking services to both caregivers and care seekers at the best possible level. Sounds more than fair to me.

What’s more, as a “caregiver entrepreneur,” (love that phrase!) you’re going to want and need liability insurance. This is what care seekers demand, for their own protection and peace of mind. Fortunately, CGUSA offers you a very modestly priced group policy with a lump sum premium paid at the beginning of your work year. Again, it’s priced really low, at less than $10 a year for coverage. It’s definitely a lot cheaper than buying a policy on your own. Besides, as I said, very few care seekers will even consider hiring a caregiver without liability insurance.

Next, they asked me to review my calendar and block out times I am available to work (and the times I’m absolutely not.)

As I said in my last post, I’m currently working full-time as a manager at a fast-food restaurant, but it’s too many hours and I am flaming out under the stress. The convenience and ability to choose when and how often I can work is great for my situation.

After being encouraged to add photos and other personal information to my online CGUSA caregiver profile so it would be easy for care seekers to find me, I was ready to launch my CNA career. Fortunately, as a CGUSA caregiver, there are three different ways I can find work (or it can find me!) 1) I can search for jobs in the database that meet my criteria. 2) Care seekers can search profiles of people they are looking for, based on credentials and expertise. 3) Care seekers can post their jobs on an electronic job board and caregivers can respond. Both the caregiver and care seeker communicate with each other via a secure internal email system.

So this is what is happening now. I was not active on the data base very long at all when this woman named Mary Jane contacted me. She says her father, John, 72, has Alzheimer’s and her mother, Anna, 65, has high blood pressure, diabetes, and is having a really hard time dealing with her own issues while trying to care for John. Mary Jane has five siblings, but everybody lives in different states. Mary Jane is the closest to John and Anna, however, living about two hours away by car, so the burden of looking in on her parents has fallen to her.

Poor Mary Jane! I’m guessing she’s about 45-years-old. She said she has a demanding, full-time job as a senior manager at a Fortune 500 Company; a husband, three kids ranging from ages 3 to 8, and two dogs. Every Friday, for the last three months, she leaves work and does all this driving in rush hour traffic to John and Anna’s house. While there, she does the housework and cooks five days worth of meals for her parents. She stays with them till Sunday morning, crack of dawn, when she drives back home to go to church with her family. Mary Jane is trying to help her parents while she is drowning herself. She’s even thinking of quitting her job if things don’t improve. (And I thought I had it rough!)

Anyway, we’ve traded several internal messages back and forth and finally spoke on the phone, having given out our numbers earlier. She wants to know if I can come over to her parents’ house (about 12 minutes away from me by car in medium traffic — yay!) and help out with housecleaning, cooking, and maybe running some errands so that she (and her mom) can get a little bit of a break from the constant needs of her dad.

Sure, I can do that!

Mary Jane already knew from the online calendar that I am available from 10 am-2 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There was like no drama over money, because I set my price at $18 an hour, and it showed up on my profile before she even contacted me. Again, I am starting out as a “companion.” When I add more CNA work (performed under supervision of a physician or an RN) I may boost my rate up to $20 an hour when my contract comes up for renewal. Not bad for starting out in a new career!

I just told my husband Daniel the great news, and he is excited for me, and for our family! I’ll let you know how it’s going after taking care of John a few weeks.

Gotta go!

Christine

5 Ways to Prevent Falls in the Elderly

How many of you are caring for the elderly, or are looking for part-time elderly care? It’s not easy. There are so many things to look out for, and so many challenges to face.

One of the biggest challenges is prevention of falls in the elderly. There are many other things to talk about when it comes to caring for the elderly but accidental falling can be a nightmare and is an ongoing plight feared by many. So how do we prevent falls in the elderly?

We know that falls, and the resulting complications, can be very dangerous for old people but they are also one of the most common risk factors – it’s just too easy to let them happen. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.” So this problem is not only widespread, it is also hidden. Caregivers end up in a difficult position of having to prevent things before they can happen.

So, What Can We Do?

Many risk factors and prevention techniques have been identified in medical and healthcare literature, so let’s go through some of the more important among these. This might go a long way in saving the lives of our loved ones. Some of these risk factors are intrinsic and you may need professional help before you can notice them, for example, examination for back problems. Other factors are environmental and to some extent they cannot be controlled easily. But there are other factors that are within the power of caregivers – both formal and informal – to deal with.

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Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, or affect balance and co-ordination.

Medication

Forewarned is forearmed. Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, or affect balance and co-ordination. This applies to everyone, not just the elderly. Caregivers might not always be in a good position to know this – medical confidentiality and lacking pharmaceutical knowledge might hinder this. But the elderly or their legal representatives should be able to ask their doctors or pharmacists to identify those medicines (whether prescribed or over-the-counter) that increase the risk of falling. The doctors especially, should be able to tell whether any particular medicine is a risk to any particular patient.

Footwear

Remember that awful, horrible feeling when you wrench an ankle wearing thick soles on uneven ground? Think of this, only much worse, if an elderly person’s feet wobble too much wearing high heels with no ankle support. Backless shoes, even slippers with smooth soles, all pose a variety of footwear-related risks. In Asia, another type of footwear to worry about are the communal slippers used for many bathrooms (they could be wet, too). There are many ways footwear can be unsafe – they can interfere with a safe and proper gait, they can be too slippery, or they can be too large and be a tripping hazard. We should ensure our elderly not only have proper and safe footwear for going out, but also for using within the home – this is especially important for bathroom slippers since the elderly may need to access a potentially wet floor late at night, possibly without wearing their glasses, while urgently rushing to answer the call of nature.

Tripping / Slipping Hazards

We already mentioned smooth-soled shoes as a slipping hazards. But there’s more. The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place for the elderly when it comes to a fall risk. The floor can be smooth and wet, and placing loose rugs may do nothing to solve this problem – they might even increase the risk of slipping (remember how frequently the elderly may need to use the bathroom at night). Bathrooms often also have little kerbs, especially at the shower areas that are naturally often quite wet. Try to use rugs with a rubberised underside, to prevent elderly users from slipping on them, and of course try to keep the floors dry. Rough surfaces or rubber mats are another potential safety measure.

But that’s just the bathroom. Falls can happen anywhere in the house or outside it, so watch out also for objects cluttering the floor, uneven ground, slopes, and smooth surfaces.

Walking assistance such as walking sticks is a great way to prevent falls in the elderly.

Assistance

Now, this might be a bit difficult. So far, we’ve talked about removing problems, or learning information. That’s not expensive. But sometimes we may need to make some investments for the long term. We don’t really need to wrap our elderly in tons of cotton wool everywhere they go, but it would help if grab rails or other supports are installed in the more important places, such as indoor stairs or places that may often have wet floors, like the bathroom. Walking aids should also be chosen carefully. A walking cane for the elderly should not be too heavy, and should be adjusted to the correct height so that a cane-assisted walking posture does not itself turn out to be a falling risk.

Diet

Protein, calcium, essential vitamins and water. All these sound very commonsensical. However, what an elderly person needs for a suitable diet may not be the same as what healthy middle-egd adults need. Some changes are common to all elderly – for example, switching to softer foods. Moreover, a healthy diet can go a long way to prevent numerous other problems that increase the risk of falling. Diet also needs to cater to a person’s specific medical issues, for example, seniors with blood pressure issues or suffering from diabetes may also need special care diet-wise, to prevent fainting spells from suddenly standing up.

Health Care Decisions For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2015, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of care for those who have this disease. Early detection can allow you to get the maximum benefit from available treatments, participate in decisions about your care and planning for your future and access care and support services for you and your family.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it is important to make an appointment with your/your loved one’s primary care physician. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, so the chief treatment goals are to:

  • maintain quality of life
  • maximize function in daily activities
  • enhance cognition, mood and behavior
  • foster a safe environment
  • promote social engagement, as appropriate

One key decision you will need to make or help your loved one make, is whether care should be provided at home or in a healthcare facility. As making the appropriate health care decisions for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is important.

Michele Lynn and her sister had to make that decision when their mother, now 99 years old, was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago. Her mother spent a short period of time after diagnosis in her own home.

“Mom and my sister both lived in New Jersey at the time, and I was in Ohio,” Ms. Lynn said. “My mother is very strong-willed and had a great desire to be independent. My sister visited Mom every day and felt that as a retired person she should care for Mom herself. We talked about the responsibilities my sister would have. I emphasized that my sister would not have family support close by. She would be responsible for hiring and monitoring help. Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s is a 24/7 job. It would have been nice if we could have had a companion during the day to help with Mom, but ultimately, as the disease began to progress, we decided that it was in everyone’s best interest to find a good Alzheimer’s care facility.”

Ms. Lynn’s mother spent eight years in a small memory unit in New Jersey.

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What’s your health care plan for a loved one with Alzheimer’s?

“Then, my sister moved to Florida, and I found the right home for Mom in Ohio,” Ms. Lynn said. “I had full responsibility for selecting her residence. I was looking for somewhere that would offer peace and quiet; and cleanliness and the attitude of the staff were very important to me. At one place I visited, I heard members of the staff standing around, complaining; at another the floor in the dining area was filthy. The place I selected was beautiful and clean, and the attitudes of the staff were amazing.”

All was well for the first year and a half that her mother lived in the memory unit at that facility, but then things changed.

“I had to get very demanding about training for the staff and how certain procedures were handled,” Ms. Lynn said. “My mother fell and was badly hurt, and I heard four different versions of what had happened. I also found out that men were trying to get into her room, seeking interaction. Mom was falling in the middle of the night. After installing an exterior lock on the door, the falls stopped. Other lapses in care occurred. I acted as an advocate not only for Mom but for other residents, too. All of the patients deserve respect and attention. Just because someone has dementia doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of what is going on around them.”

Ms. Lynn emphasizes that just because your loved one is receiving professional care, that doesn’t mean they don’t still need you.

“You have to be there and listen and pay attention,” she said. “You have to remember that you are trusting staff with a precious being who won’t be here forever. Advocate for your loved one to ensure they are safe.

“Do the things your loved one likes to do. Do what you can to bring them joy. My mother loves flowers, so I bring flowers that we arrange together. She lights up. I also arrange for musical groups to sing for the residents. Music is a wonderful therapy for memory patients.

“I’ve also never stopped finding outside help. Hospice has become involved as Mom has declined. They provide an extra set of eyes and ears for my mother. They also provide me much-needed support. It’s important for me as a caregiver to get personal support.”

Pamela Williams, now a registered nurse, previously worked as a nurses aide in an advanced Alzheimer’s unit at a long-term care facility and also cared for her grandmother at home after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She agrees with Ms. Lynn that a support system is so important when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

“We were fortunate because she was diagnosed pretty early,” Ms. Williams said. “She had a really great physician who put her on a couple of medications that really helped to slow the process. At first she mainly just needed help with medication management, laundry, cooking and cleaning. My parents lived right next door, and my aunt and uncle lived just a mile and a half away. One of my sisters and one of my cousins was still in town, so we had a great family support system. I moved in initially, and when I moved out my parents moved in with her, choosing her house over their own since hers was all one level and they knew that at some point, she wouldn’t be able to go up and down the stairs in their home.”

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What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s? 

Eventually, her grandmother’s care needs increased.

“She began to need help with bathing and other personal care,” Ms. Williams said. “That is definitely something you need to consider if you plan to care for your loved one at home – that is a daily need, and a personal one. By then I was living a mile away and would drive over once a day to help my parents with her. I was a nurses aide at the time and was more comfortable with it. She was my grandmother, and I loved her and was happy to help.

“As her needs progressed, at times my parents would get stressed out and need a break. If you are a caregiver and you don’t have family and friends close by who are willing and able to offer respite care like we did, I think it is so important that you seek out other resources. Contact your Area Office on Aging or whatever resources your community has to offer.”

Ms. Williams points out that care needs will change and increase over time, and it is important to be prepared for that.

“Know that even if symptoms are mild early on, they will get worse,” she said. “We were very lucky that my Grandma wasn’t aggressive, never got sundowner’s, never wandered, but I saw these symptoms in others at work. Some of the patients I cared for forgot how to walk, how to speak. Their care needs were extensive. New symptoms can present at any time, and that can change the course you need to take. There is no cure for this disease, so inevitably, there will come a time that you will either need to find a healthcare facility with an Alzheimer’s unit for your loved one or you will need resources to support you as a caregiver. Don’t wait for that to happen – research those options before you have a desperate need for them so you can take your time and make the right decisions for your family.”

Signs of Alzheimer's are not to be mistaken with age related changes

Living with Alzheimer’s – is more than just memory loss.

Following are 10 warning signs that you or a loved one might have Alzheimer’s:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

For more details on each of these symptoms, visit Alzheimer’s Association‘s website.

How can you tell the difference between Alzheimer’s symptoms and typical age-related changes? The following chart from the Alzheimer’s Association can help:

Signs of Alzheimer’s Typical age-related changes
Poor judgment and decision making Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or the season Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them Losing things from time to time

There is a wealth of information available through the Alzheimer’s Association website, or by calling the association’s 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. You can also jump right to a section of the website that will help you map out a personalized action plan for your family at https://www.alzheimersnavigator.org.

Serenity For Seniors

An aquarium stocked with colorful tropical fish does the trick.

Happiness is watching the pretty things go by – and these seniors were full of eager anticipation as they watched me set up an aquarium at their day care center. Their faces lit up when I released into the once neglected tank, dozens of tiny fish – brilliantly hued neon tetras flitting merrily with multi-colored guppies.

All it took to transform the tank were a few packets of gravel, a dozen aquatic plants, a filter pump, an under-gravel air stone, and an overhead light. And, a deft eye and hand to place the entire lot in a pleasing arrangement. Half-a-day’s work and hey presto, the magic of an undersea world was up and running… adding new life literally to the recreational needs of the center’s seniors.

Mrs. Richards (not her real name), who is 95, likes to spend a few minutes each day watching the fish, especially when they rush to the surface during feeding time. “They are so beautiful… I see they have been growing slowly, but steadily, over the last few weeks.”

Watching the fish in an aquarium brings her a sense of serenity, says Mrs. Richards.

Some dental clinics have taken to placing aquariums in their waiting area. Watching the fish can be effective in reducing anxiety in patients awaiting dental surgery, according to medical studies.

This is especially true in elderly patients who experience reduced muscle tension and lowered pulse rate after watching the fish before going in for treatment.

Sure, maintaining the cleanliness of the aquarium and making sure the water is balanced for the well-being of the fish, can be hard work, in addition to making sure that they are fed regularly.

Fish can also get distressed when the water gets too hot or too cold, or if there is not enough light.

But the effort to maintain the aquarium is worth the while, especially when it brings benefits – the calming effect and a feeling of serenity that it bestows on elderly people when time hangs heavy on their hands.

A Purdue study in 2009 shows that aquariums had a good influence on the nutritional intake of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Patients exposed to the aquaria averaged an increase of 17.2 per cent in the amount of food they consumed. Weight also increased significantly, and the patients required fewer nutritional supplements.

In addition to the nutritional benefits, there was also a noticeable decrease in physically aggressive behaviors among the patients.

Feng shui advocates also say that moving water is considered beneficial in balancing “chi”, and a well maintained aquarium in the right location increases wealth and luck.

What next? Perhaps a koi pond in the open area outside the day care room, where flowering plants already abound. Seniors sitting around a koi pond may well feel refreshed as they enjoy a spot of sunshine, watching the graceful sight of swimming koi.

Ways to Prepare for Surgery

The thought of having a surgical procedure done can be daunting and you can definitely do without the additional stress. One way to ease the mind is to know what to expect and being aware of the right post-surgical care. Here we look at the various ways to prepare for surgery.

Do Your Homework

“In an ideal situation, you want to do as much research as you can,” said Sandra Le, a breast cancer survivor who underwent two mastectomies roughly a year apart. “The more people you talk to, the more you understand.”

Questions Ms. Le recommends asking your surgeon or potential surgeon include:

  • Where will the incision be, and what will it look like?
  • Is there any chance I can see pictures of surgeries you have performed so I can get an idea of what things will look like?
  • What are the possible risks associated with this surgery?
  • What will my activity restrictions be after surgery?
  • When will I be able to drive?
  • Are there any particular movements I will need to avoid and for how long?
  • What can I do to help speed up my recovery?
  • Will you walk me through the surgery so I can better understand the process?
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One way to prepare for surgery is to address your concerns with your surgeon or nurse.

This last question, Ms. Le notes, is probably the most important question you can ask.

If you have time to do so, Ms. Le recommends seeking out opinions and advice from other patients who have been through the procedure you are facing.

“I scoured the Internet,” she said. “I searched through forums and review sites for any information I could find about my doctors. I also trusted in my husband’s evaluation of the surgeon. I was so blessed that my husband, Walter, is a physician because I truly felt lost the entire time. I have some understanding of medicine since I used to work as a registered nurse. However, as I faced my surgeries, I was quite emotional and could not quite grasp everything that was being discussed. If you have a friend or relative who works in the medical field and whom you feel comfortable asking to accompany you to your medical appointments, doing so can be very helpful.”

Expect the Unexpected

Even after you’ve done your research about what to expect from your surgery, remember that things don’t always go exactly as planned. Be prepared for potential complications, advised Shelley Dawn Johnson, who has had several surgeries but was caught off guard when one particular procedure did not go as expected.

“I was scheduled for what was supposed to be a very simple laparoscopic procedure,” she said. “It was an exploratory surgery with just two tiny incisions to go in and look around and try to find the source of my terribly painful periods. I hadn’t even mentioned the surgery to anyone other than my husband, since I expected to be home hours later. I’d been told this was going to be an easy, in-and-out procedure.”

Ms. Johnson had previously had two C-sections, and it turned out the source of her pain was adhesions from those surgeries.

“When my surgeon made the incision in the standard place the surgery called for, he nicked an artery,” Ms. Johnson said. “The artery wasn’t supposed to be there, but thanks to the adhesions, everything was kind of stuck together. My simple outpatient procedure turned into an open procedure to stop the internal bleeding. I woke up to the news that I had been opened up, had lost a lot of blood, would probably need to be transfused and was facing a hospital stay of at least five days.”

She hadn’t arranged for anyone to help with her two children, then just 3 and 6 years old, because she’d expected to return home the same day. And because her surgery wasn’t scheduled, there was no bed available for her on the OB/Gyn floor, so she ended up on an understaffed general post-surgical floor. The nurses there did not specialize in OB/Gyn and didn’t understand what some of her post-surgical symptoms meant, dismissing a real medical issue as anxiety.

“When you are scheduled to have surgery, you just never know what might happen,” she said. “So I think it is important to carefully discuss all possible risks of surgery with your doctor beforehand, and to prepare for the fact that any of those things could actually happen. At the same time, you still have to go in with a positive attitude and in a healthy state, mentally and spiritually. You should be prepared for the unexpected but still hope for the best possible outcome, because your attitude will affect your recovery.”

Here are some simple ways to prepare for surgeryPrepare for Your Recovery Period

Whether you are scheduled for a complex procedure or a simple one, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Le advise preparing for your recovery period and lining up help in advance. You can also follow their advice if you wish to help someone you know who is facing surgery.

  • Arrange for help with children, including driving your kids to and from school and activities.
  • Clean and de-clutter your house so it will be easier to maintain while you are on activity restriction.
  • Make freezer meals or allow someone to start a Meal Train or Sign Up Genius to allow friends and family members to sign up to bring meals for your family while you recover. (If you want to do this for a friend facing surgery, be sure to ask first to see if they are comfortable having meals brought to them, and be sure to ask about preferred drop-off times and methods as well as any food allergies or other dietary restrictions. And for those who want to offer sustenance but do not cook, be sure to share a list of favorite restaurants for which gift cards can be purchased).
  • Keep in mind that you might have dietary restriction during your immediate recovery period. Be sure to stock your kitchen with light snacks such as Jello, popsicles and other easily digestible food, including crackers, which can help with nausea.
  • Consider scheduling some sessions with a professional house cleaner. If you want to offer this as a gift to someone facing surgery, be sure to ask first if this would be a desirable gift, as some people just aren’t comfortable having strangers in their home.
  • When you come home from the hospital, keep your post-surgery instructions and doctor’s phone number by your bed. Alert your doctor immediately with any concerns.

Many people feel uncomfortable asking for help, so if you know someone facing surgery, don’t wait for them to ask you for help – just offer – even if they turn down your offer, at least they will know you are thinking of them, and sometimes simply knowing that you care and are concerned can be a wonderful gift on its own.

Not all surgeries are planned in advance. Some are emergent, but in the case of a scheduled surgery, you can take advantage of the opportunity to carefully plan and prepare for both your procedure and your recovery.