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[ Remember To Care For The Caregivers This Holiday Season ]

Remember To Care For The Caregivers This Holiday Season

More five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia and over 70 percent of those individuals are cared for in their homes by a spouse or other family member. Stress, anxiety and burnout are never far from the doorsteps of these caregivers as they often juggle the responsibilities of providing daily care with the added demands of working, maintaining a household, or raising children. The holiday season can intensify these daily burdens, but too often caregivers don't know how to ask for help and friends and family members aren't sure of how to lend a hand. "Caregivers will say 'no' when offered help because they worry it will reflect poorly on them or because they 'don't want to bother' others. And some caregivers get so attached to their role that just can't let go, " said Nancy Alterman, a licensed clinical social worker with the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Home Births - Then And Now

A comparison of home-birth trends of the 1970s finds many similarities - and some differences - related to current trends in home births. For instance, in the 1970s - as now - women opting to engage in home births tended to have higher levels of education. That's according to a 1978 survey by Home Oriented Maternity Experience (HOME) that was recently found by University of Cincinnati historian Wendy Kline in the archives of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). That survey showed that in the late 1970s, one third of the group's members participating in home births had a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree. Fewer than one percent did not have a high school education. Also, according to the 2, 000 respondents to HOME's 1978 survey, 36 percent of women engaging in home births at the time were attended by physicians.

Seniors With Disabilities Struggle To Remain At Home As Public Programs Lose Funding

California's low-income seniors with disabilities are struggling to remain in their homes as public funding for long-term care services shrinks and may be slashed even further, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research conducted with support from The SCAN Foundation. Should as much as $100 million in additional cuts be made to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) on Dec. 15, as proposed by the state Legislature, seniors with disabilities will lose crucial support systems that allow them to remain safely in their homes and out of nursing homes. This vulnerable group could face a 20 percent loss in the number of paid caregiver hours they receive, on top of cuts already enacted earlier this year. "California was once a national model for long-term care, but those services are being rolled back, " said Kathryn Kietzman, the study's lead author.

Mild Cognitive Impairment Distresses Health Of Caregiver

When a person with mild cognitive impairment is agitated or restless, caregivers can expect to find they are more edgy as well. According to recent research conducted at Virginia Tech, the more a caregiver's day is disrupted by the unsettled behaviors of their loved one, the more they find themselves unable to meet or balance their own home and family work loads. This heightens the effect of elevated stress levels on their own bodies, placing caregivers at risk for current and future health problems. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a transitional stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and early stages of Alzheimer's disease, is characterized by changes in memory that may not interfere with everyday activities but can cause frustration and anxiety among persons with the impairment and their family members.

Nation's For-Profit Nursing Homes Provide Poor Quality Of Care, Low Staffing

The nation's largest for-profit nursing homes deliver significantly lower quality of care because they typically have fewer staff nurses than non-profit and government-owned nursing homes. That's the finding of a new UCSF-led analysis of quality of care at nursing homes around the country. It is the first-ever study focusing solely on staffing and quality at the 10 largest for-profit chains. The article is published online in advance of print publication in Health Services Research. "Poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains, " said first author Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, professor emeritus of sociology and nursing at the UCSF School of Nursing. Harrington also is director of the UCSF National Center for Personal Assistance Services.

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