Monthly Archives: September 2016

Dear Members and Friends of NOCSC:

Just a reminder that our next General All Member Meeting will be held this Tuesday morning, 20 September from 8:30-10 a.m. here at the St. Jude Community Services Building / Conference Room.  Among other things we will be discussing:

  • Next steps in our Advance Care Planning Classes
  • Curriculum for the Caregiver Fall Reduction Class
  • Changes in our Senior Resources 101 Class
  • Distribution of the 2016-2017 Senior Resources Guide
  • OC Senior Unmet Needs Survey
  • October Educational Forum Speaker
  • And More . . .

 

See you Tomorrow!

When Hiring a Home Care Agency Know the Law

Daniel R. York, Attorney at Law

 When family and friends can no longer provide caregiving services at home what’s next?  You may have to make the difficult decision to hire a caregiving agency, but what does a smart consumer ask? How do you find the best care for your relative? How can you check on agencies and their caregivers?

For your family’s protection, hire a company that meets the standards set forth in a recently passed law. As of January 1, 2016, the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act became effective.  The law requires agencies to:

  • Conduct criminal background checks on workers
  • Provide an employee dishonesty bond
  • Provide valid workers compensation coverage
  • Carry liability insurance,
  • Maintain records of suspected abuse
  • Provide five hours of training
  • List aides in an online registry and obtain a license certifying agency compliance

The California Department of Social Services now provides this licensing for “Home care services.” Home Care Services are nonmedical services and assistance provided by a registered home care aide to a client who, because of advanced age or physical or mental disability needs assistance with activities of daily living.

When hiring a home care agency follow these steps:

  1. Ask your agency for a copy of their license from the California Department of Social Services. No matter how large or small, every entity that arranges for an “Affiliated Home Care Aide” must apply for the license.
  2. Check “Home Care Organization” license status by calling (916) 657-3570 or check online at  https://secure.dss.ca.gov/CareFacilitySearch/home/index.
  3. Ask your agency for the home care aide’s first and last name and their Personnel ID number. This will give you the information to verify that caregiver’s registration status.
  4.  Check the home care aide registration status by calling the Home Care Services Bureau at 1-877-424-5778; or call Caregiver Background Check Bureau at (916) 653-1923. You can also visit https://secure.dss.ca.gov/ccld/hcsregistry/registrysearch.aspx.

An important feature of this law states that Affiliated Home Care Aides cannot be independent contractors. They must be employees of the Home Care Organization. This holds the Home Care Organization responsible for directing the actions of an Affiliated Home Care Aide, and compliance with requirements such as TB testing, training, background check and registration.

Whether you need caregivers occasionally or regularly, it’s comforting to know you can hire an agency that meets standards.  Remember you only have these protections if you hire through an agency. Otherwise, the burden is on you.

 

 

Ageism, Attitude and Health

Buying into old-age putdowns is bad for you. Here’s why.

By Lisa Esposito | Staff Writer Dec. 26, 2015, at 1:05 p.m.

Beautiful senior woman smiling at camera

Older adults who are exposed to negative age stereotypes may experience increases in blood pressure and higher stress levels. (GETTY IMAGES)

Accomplished, enlightened, learned, sage and wise? Or confused, decrepit, incompetent and declining? The language used to describe aging, the way people talk to and about seniors, matters. Ageism can hurt your health, research shows. Shedding negative stereotypes and embracing positive attitudes now can help make life better as you get older.

Loaded Language

And what can I get you for dessert, young lady?

Subtle ageism comes through in the language people use, says Tracey Gendron, an assistant professor in the department of gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University. It’s a way to treat elders as “others.”

An ageist attitude can come wrapped as a personal compliment. “When we praise someone for looking or being ‘youthful,’ or having a young spirit or body, that in and of itself is problematic,” Gendron says. “Because it’s making ‘young’ the default of what is preferred, what is positive, and ‘old’ the default of what is negative.”

 Gendron challenges well-meaning people when tempted to describe an older adult as “79 years young,” to consider what they really mean – that the individual is energetic, healthy, lively, vital or engaged.

Evidence of Harm

Becca Levy, an associate professor of both epidemiology and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health, and colleagues are compiling evidence on the physical fallout of ageism. In study after study, they connect negative stereotypes of old age to worse health outcomes.

On the flip side, subliminal exposure to positive age stereotypes can improve how older people function, according to research presented by Levy at the annual scientific meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in November.

Her most recent published study is disturbing: Brain changes that are hallmarks ofAlzheimer’s disease were much more prevalent in older adults who decades earlier had expressed the most negative ideas of what it means to be old.

The study, which appeared online Dec. 7 in Psychology and Aging, looked at 158 people in a long-term study who responded to a scale of attitudes toward old people. Later, they underwent yearly MRI brain scans, and for some who died, brain autopsies.

Participants who held more negative age stereotypes had lost more volume in the hippocampus section of their brains. They also had more build-up of amyloid plaques and “tangles” around their brain cells. These signs are biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. Holding positive age stereotypes appeared to have a protective effect on the brain, the study found.

Talk to Me, Doctor

It happens when you accompany an older relative at a health care visit: The doctor talks to you instead of the patient. Alice Fisher, founder of the Radical Age Movement, a national group seeking to raise awareness of and confront ageism, has seen it with her parents’ health providers.

“I would have to say, ‘Could you please talk to my mom? She understands everything you’re saying. I’m not the one we’re talking about,'” Fisher recalls. It was, she says, as if her mother was not even in the room. “That’s absolutely so annoying,” she says. “And it disempowers the person that’s there to be treated.”

In general, Fisher says, it’s a problem when people conflate aging with being ill or disabled. “It’s a fine line,” she says. “If you’re old and you get cancer; well, then you’re sick. But the normal slowing down of the body is not an illness.”

Amazing at His Age!

Wow, he’s in his 90s but sharp as tack.

A study by Gendron, published online in July in The Gerontologist, analyzes ageism in tweets from health professional students taking part in a senior mentoring program. After each visit with an older adult, participants posted reactions on Twitter.

Twelve percent of these tweets contained discriminatory language, researchers found. Some seemed benign on the surface.

One type of bias is “uncharacteristic characteristics,” Gendron says – referring to certain behaviors as unusual or outside the norm for older people. A study example: “My mentor is truly an amazing woman. She maintains great health and keeps a daily activity that very few people her age are able to accomplish.”

Another example: “Infantilizing” language focused on childlike attributes in older adults: “What a sweet woman! I especially love her little winks (#herecomestrouble).”

Ageism to Heart

Some ideas of aging are empowering; others are stress-inducing. In Levy’s 2000 study in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, older adults were subliminally exposed to either positive or negative words used to stereotype aging.

Next, they performed computer tasks involving quickness and accuracy, and did verbal and arithmetic exercises under stressful conditions: having a tape recorder placed in front of them, being timed with a stopwatch and hearing a metronome ticking in the background.

Those exposed to negative age stereotypes had significant increases in blood pressure and heart rate following the challenges, compared with people given positive stereotypes.

Higher stress causes the body to release more stress hormones, researchers noted. Over time, stress contributes to chronic high blood pressure and other risk factors that may eventually result in heart attacks or strokes. “Positive age stereotypes act as a buffer to everyday stressors and challenges,” Levy says.

The findings were in line with another study by Levy and colleagues, which found that people holding negative age stereotypes were at greater risk of experiencing cardiovascular events up to 38 years later, compared with those holding more positive age stereotypes.

Capable or Dependent?

Self-efficacy – a person’s confidence in their ability to exert control over their own motivation, behavior and social environment – tends to flourish when people view aging in a positive light.

“We have found that those with more positive age stereotypes tend to be more likely to engage in preventive health behaviors,” Levy says. That includes taking prescribed medications and wearing seatbelts.

In Levy’s November 2012 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people age 70 and older recovering from severe disability were 44 percent more likely to recovery fully in activities of daily living – bathing, dressing, transferring and walking – if they had positive old-age stereotypes.

A 2010 study from France explored how negative attitudes about age create dependencyamong older adults. Paris Descartes University researchers exposed participants to positive, negative or neutral stereotypes and noted how often they asked for experimenters’ help while completing a task, versus being confident enough to proceed independently. Experiencing negative old-age stereotypes was tied to people taking fewer risks and seeking more assistance.

Not So Benign

Me, I’m not old. But those old people living around me – they’re so stubborn.

With internalized ageism, seniors have absorbed the old-is-bad message. “We have ‘othered’ ourselves away from quote ‘old people,'” Gendron says. “‘I’m not old – I’m just mature.'”

Then there’s Facebook. A study led by Levy, published April 2014 in The Gerontologist, looked at 84 Facebook groups focused on age-related topics. Two-thirds of the groups “excoriated” older individuals, 27 percent infantilized them and 37 percent urged banning them from activities such as driving or shopping. The authors note that Facebook community standards don’t address ageist speech.

Be Kind to Your Future Self

When it comes down to it, ageism just doesn’t make sense. “Watch that language of saying ‘they’ and ‘those,’ and make it about ‘us’ and ‘we,'” Gendron advises. “We’re all aging, every day. It is about ‘us.'”

At any age, people can strive to change unhelpful attitudes. “The ideal would be to get rid of them; if we could have a society without ageism and without negative age stereotypes,” Levy says. But until that happens, she says, question negative stereotypes as you encounter them in media, marketing and everyday life, and look for older role models to bolster a positive attitude and promote good health.

“We’ve made [aging] into this scary, horrible thing,” Gendron says. “We’ve made it into something that you dread, not something that you look forward to.” Yet, she adds, “Data show people are happiest when they’re in their 70s and 80s. Because we don’t care what other people think.”

Fisher wants you to know she’s about to turn 70. “‘For God’s sake, say your age – it’s OK,” she says. “You should be proud that you’re 83. It’s a ‘you made it’ kind of thing. Don’t hide it.”

Editor’s Note: This story was written with support from the Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, sponsored by the Silver Century Foundation