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

Got Sleep?

March has been designated National Sleep Awareness Month. One part of sleep awareness is knowing how our sleep may be affected by changes in the environment.

Most of the United States returns to Daylight Saving Time beginning at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, March 8. As we spring forward and advance our clocks one hour, it is important to consider how this small change can affect our sleep.

Moving our clocks, watches, and cell phones in either direction changes the principal time cue—light—for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. This makes our internal clock out of sync with our current day-night cycle.

In general, “losing” an hour in the spring is more difficult to adjust to than “gaining” an hour in the fall.  An “earlier” bedtime may cause difficulty falling asleep and increased wakefulness during the early part of the night.

If you have insomnia or are sleep-deprived already, you could experience more difficulties. In this situation, you could see decreased performance, concentration and memory during the workday, which is common to sleep-deprived individuals.  You also may experience fatigue and daytime sleepiness. All of these are more likely if you consume alcohol or caffeine late in the evening.

In general, people adjust to the change in time within a few days. You can help this by decreasing exposure to light in your home during the evenings, exercising, trying to have a consistent sleep schedule, and reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine.

Like us on Facebook for more daily updates! http://www.Facebook.com/CaregiverUSAcorp

Visit https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2015/03/04/national-sleep-awareness-month/ for more about sleep, insomnia and work-life balance resources.

Patient Safety Awareness Week-The Week that Lasts all Year

Prevention of Falls in the Elderly

How many of you are caring for the elderly, or looking for someone who can? 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 them but accidental falling can be a nightmare. So how do we prevent falls in the elderly?

We know that falls, and the resulting complications, can be very dangerous 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 have been identified in medical and healthcare literature. 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 cannot be controlled easily. But there are other factors that are within the power of caregivers-both formal and informal-to deal with.

Medication

Forewarned is forearmed. Some medicines can make a person dizzy or drowsy, of 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/pharmacists to identify those medicines that increase the risk of falling. The doctors especially, should be able to tell you 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 bathrooms. 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 glasses, while urgently rushing to answer the call of nature.

Tripping/Slipping Hazards

We already mentioned smooth-soled shoes as a slipping hazard. But there’s more. The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place for 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. Bathrooms often also have little curbs, especially at the shower areas. Try to use rugs with a rubberized underside, to prevent elderly users from slipping to 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.

Assistance

Now, this might be a bit difficult. So far, we’ve talked about removing problems. That’s not expensive. But sometimes we may need to make some investments for long term. We don’t need to wrap our loved ones in tons of cotton wool everywhere they go, but it would help if grab rails or other supports and installed in the important areas of the home (bathroom for example). Walking aides should also be chosen carefully. It 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-aged 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.

If you or a loved one are looking into home care options please visit http://www.CaregiverUSA.com or call 614-408-9939.

Did you know 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease? Take Two Simple Tests to Know Your Kidney Numbers

March is National Kidney Month, so let’s focus on the importance of education and prevention!

Anyone can get kidney disease at any time. If kidney disease is found and treated early, you can help slow or even stop it from getting worse. Most people with early kidney disease do not have symptoms. That is why it is important to be tested. Know your kidney numbers!

Your kidney numbers include 2 tests: ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio) and GFR (glomerular filtration rate). GFR is a measure of kidney function and is performed through a blood test. Your GFR will determine what stage of kidney disease you have – there are 5 stages. Know your stage. ACR is a urine test to see how much albumin (a type of protein) is in your urine. Too much albumin in your urine is an early sign of kidney damage.

  • Urine Test called ACR. ACR stands for “albumin-to-creatinine ratio.” Your urine will be tested for albumin. Albumin is a type of protein. Your body needs protein. But it should be in the blood, not the urine. Having protein in your urine may mean that your kidneys are not filtering your blood well enough. This can be a sign of early kidney disease. If your urine test comes back “positive” for protein, the test should be repeated to confirm the results. Three positive results over three months or more is a sign of kidney disease.
  • Blood Test to estimate your GFR. Your blood will be tested for a waste product called creatinine. Creatinine comes from muscle tissue. When the kidneys are damaged, they have trouble removing creatinine from your blood. Testing for creatinine is only the first step. Next, your creatinine result is used in a math formula with your age, race, and sex to find out your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Your GFR number tells your healthcare provider how well your kidneys are working. Check with your doctor about having a GFR test.

 

Caregiver USA is committed to the wellness of their employees and clients. If you want to stay informed or would like to learn more about Caregiver USA services please visit http://www.CaregiverUSA.com or call 614-408-9939.

10 Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

From our friends at the National Parkinson Foundation,

Sometimes it’s hard to tell that you might have Parkinson’s Disease. The symptoms arise when your brain stops making an important chemical called dopamine. This chemical helps your body to move, and helps your mood. If you have Parkinson’s, you can feel better by taking medicine that helps your body to replace that chemical.

Parkinson’s disease will get worse slowly over time, and your doctor can help you to stay healthy longer. If you or a loved one show any of these warning signs, you should tell your doctor about them and ask about the disease.

  1. Tremor or shaking
  2. Small handwriting
  3. Loss of smell
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Trouble moving or walking
  6. Constipation
  7. A soft or low voice
  8. Masked face
  9. Dizziness or fainting
  10. Stooping or hunching over

 

If you or a loved one develop any of these signs and need assistance in the home call 614-408-9939 or visit http://www.CaregiverUSA.com for an evaluation.

For more information about Parkinson’s Disease visit http://www.Parkinson.org or call the helpline 1-800-4PD-INFO.

 

February is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month

Understanding AMD
AMD is the gradual but persistent breakdown of the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly. Over time, this can affect the ability to read, drive, identify faces, watch television, navigate stairs and perform a suite of other daily tasks. For many adults, this visual deterioration occurs in one eye and may eventually form in the other.

There are two types of AMD – “dry” and “wet”. The majority of people with AMD have the “dry” form, which is less severe and develops gradually. It is important to carefully monitor central vision when diagnosed with AMD, because it can quickly develop into a more serious condition – wet AMD.

Risk Factors
According to vision experts, the top five risk factors for AMD are:

  • Being over the age of 50
  • Family history
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have a macular problem until they notice blurred or distorted vision. If you or someone in your family is at an increased risk for AMD, see an eye care provider as soon as possible to undergo an eye exam. Early detection of AMD is the most important step to preventing serious vision loss.

Treatment Options
There is no treatment for dry AMD but doctors have found a link between nutrition and the progression of dry AMD. Introducing low-fat foods and dark leafy greens into your diet can slow vision loss and may even increase your overall wellness.

If wet AMD is detected early, laser treatment is a popular method to help prevent severe vision loss.

As we observe National AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, take this opportunity to reduce your risk of developing AMD. Avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and eat a healthy diet that includes green leafy vegetables and fish. For extra motivation, find a friend, partner or neighbor to engage in healthy habits with you!

If you or a loved one suffers from AMD or vision impairment and you believe they could use some assistance please visit http://www.CaregiverUSA.com or call 614-408-9939.

http://whatislowvision.org/2014/02/19/february-is-national-age-related-macular-degeneration-and-low-vision-awareness-month/