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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: May 08, 2017

Leveraging CMS reimbursements for post-acute and chronic patients

With proper billing-code utilization and the right care-coordination technology to match the best providers with care seekers, physicians and health care organizations involved in the discharge planning and care coordination of chronic and post-acute patients can be reimbursed for these services.

Since 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been reimbursing doctors and health care organizations for providing chronic care management. Unfortunately, many organizations are not receiving this reimbursement and may be missing out on federal funding for some of the sickest Medicare beneficiaries. With proper billing-code utilization and the right care-coordination technology to match the best providers with care seekers, physicians, and health care organizations involved in the discharge planning and care coordination of chronic and post-acute patients can be reimbursed for these services. 

What are the CMS reimbursements?

As reported by ModernHealthCare, CMS made payments for chronic-care claims for just 513,000 Medicare beneficiaries of the approximately 35 million individuals eligible for this program. (To be eligible, individuals must have two or more chronic conditions.) Some of this gap stems from physicians' overall lack of awareness of the billing code for care management. However, by speaking with physicians, coordinating chronic-care services and using the right care-management billing codes, CMS will reimburse physicians and health care organizations for their time. 

The source noted that approximately 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions. Examples of the covered conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid).
  • Asthma.
  • Diabetes.
  • Hypertension.
  • Depression.
  • Cancer.

Hospitals that partner with acute care nurses, discharge planners and care coordinators can take advantage of the average $42 per patient per month reimbursement for chronic-care service coordination and specialist consultations.

As noted in ModernHealthCare, another reason some health care providers are not taking advantage of this opportunity is due to the necessary written patient permission for the reimbursements. However, the 2017 add-on now eliminates the need for written consent and allows a verbal okay from patients.

According to CMS, the payable CCM service codes include:

  • CPT code 99490: covers 20 minutes of clinical staff time once a month for patients with two or more chronic conditions at significant risk of death or functional decline. The chronic care management services are required to have established, implemented, revised or monitored a comprehensive care plan.
  • CPT code 99487: covers 60 minutes per month of clinical staff time for complex chronic care involving moderate or high complexity medical decision making.
  • CPT code 99489: covers additional 30-minute block for qualified clinical staff time, once per month.
  • HCPCS code G0506: an add-on, covers qualified clinical staff time for the initiating visit with a patient to develop a comprehensive assessment and care plan.

Some of the services included under the CCM cover:

  • Continuity of care with designated care team members.
  • Comprehensive care management planning.
  • Transitional care management.
  • Coordination with home- and community-based clinical service providers.

Qualified clinical staff include:

  • Physicians.
  • Certified nurse midwives.
  • Clinical nurse specialists.
  • Nurse practitioners.
  • Physician assistants.

CMS also noted that CCM services are priced in both facility and non-facility settings, including skilled nursing, nursing, assisted living or other facility settings.

Reducing patient hospital readmittance

Patient readmittance in the first 30 days results in a CMS reimbursement penalty, so it's imperative that discharge nurses have top quality care providers for post-acute and chronic patients.

Unfortunately, research studies showed that 17.3 percent of Medicare fee-for-service patients aged 65 and over were readmitted within 30 days in 2012, according to the National Health Statistics Report. Readmissions occurred due to care coordinators poorly managing transitions during discharge, infections or complications caused by the hospital stay or the reappearance of the condition that led to the hospitalization in the first place.

Reducing readmissions falls on care coordinators in charge of locating care providers with the skills and qualifications that best suit the needs of the patient.

To accomplish this, care coordination companies, such as hospitals or health IT companies, are building discharge-planning software. However, these platforms need a robust database of talented and experienced care providers to ensure post-acute and chronic patients recover quickly and do not need readmittance.

 

Care coordinators need to reduce the hospital readmission rate of chronic patients.

Care coordinators need to reduce the hospital readmission rate of chronic patients.

Follow-up calls between visits to primary care physicians

One way to help reduce the chances for chronic and acute patient readmission is to provide ongoing treatment and care following a hospital discharge. This enables an open dialogue and regular visits to ensure the patient is following the physician's recommendations. 

Individuals receiving ongoing treatments from their primary care physicians and suffering from two chronic conditions need extra care providers in between doctor visits. Aligning these care services along with the CMS reimbursement is important to capture lost revenue opportunities.

How Carelike can help

Sometimes the biggest obstacle to taking advantage of the CMS reimbursement is finding the best-suited care providers to deliver post-discharge and follow-up services. Matching a nurse without the right qualifications can lead to readmission, which penalizes the reimbursement. Often, as noted by the Center for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform, the inability to receive good primary care support in the local community is a main contributor to preventable readmissions.

Care coordinators arranging for discharge planning or long-term follow-up services for chronic patients need easy access to a wide range of care providers. Further they need the ability to accurately tailor their searches to locate the most appropriate health care professional to align with unique care seeker needs. By identifying the best local care providers for managing post-discharge chronic care patients, hospitals can reduce their readmission rates and ensure they're receiving the full CMS reimbursement.

Carelike creates a custom portal for care coordinators, who can then use licensed data that focuses on either national or local/regional care providers. Hospitals that already have their own systems can rely on Carelike's API that simply plugs into existing systems for easy access to the extensive database.

Using Carelike's dashboard, care coordinators can easily track patient statuses, add noted, document care transitions and take advantage of the extensive database of providers who all manage chronic and post-acute conditions. This provides an additional layer of context during the transition phase that's crucial for communicating additional information about patients.

Companies in the process of building a software solution to meet the growing need of matching care providers with care seekers could benefit from using the Carelike database.

Carelike provides the technology and resources to help hospitals, health care organizations and care coordinators take advantage of CMS reimbursements for chronic care and post-acute care management. Click here to learn more about Carelike.

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: May 01, 2017

How to effectively communicate with a care provider

As a patient, your relationship with a care provider is essential in recovery, preventing disease and maintaining your overall health.

As a patient, your relationship with a care provider is essential in recovery, preventing disease and maintaining your overall health. This is especially true if you are seeking home health services. Although health professionals can run tests and observe your medical data to reach conclusions or diagnoses and offer treatment, a lot of investigatory work they do comes from effective communication with you or your loved one.

Why communication matters in health
Many patients don't realize how much power they have in determining their own health outcomes, and a lot of that starts with the way they communicate with care providers. Patients actually have more access to information about preventative disease, alternative medicine, and traditional treatments than ever before with the internet as well.

That's why, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, many medical professionals are now seeing the doctor-patient relationship as a partnership. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also concluded that communication between doctors, patients, and their families actually improves patient health because they are more engaged and knowledgeable.

 

Come prepared to talk about your medical history with your care provider.

Come prepared to talk about your medical history with your care provider.

That means that you need to prepare for your medical appointments, break down barriers between yourself and your caregivers, and learn how to adequately communicate with medical personnel in a meaningful way. Not only does this remove the risk of medical error on their end, but it also helps you become better educated in your own health.

Learning how to communicate with health professionals
Communicating about your medical history with someone you just met might seem a little daunting, but there are ways to remove those barriers. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your next appointment:

  • Have a list of questions prepared beforehand: In the days leading up to your appointment, write down some of the lingering questions you have about a certain condition or your general health. This ensures you don't leave anything important out, and it makes the appointment flow much more smoothly.
  • Think about bringing along a family member or friend for support: This can be especially helpful for those with physical disabilities or patients with cognitive decline. These individuals can keep notes about your care professional's treatment recommendations and also help you remember details about your medical history.
  • Be honest about your medical history: In order for your doctor to make the right recommendations, he or she will need to have a full and clear account of any conditions you may have struggled with in the past, whether they are physical, emotional or mental.
  • Include details about your mental health: Far too many people put their mental health on the back burner, but this aspect of your well-being is just as important in your recovery. If you have been noticing a cognitive decline or symptom of dementia, your care professional needs to know. Tackling these issues early on is key to prevention, and it starts with communication.

Clear communication with your doctor isn't just important for medical professionals, it's also imperative in keeping your health in the best shape possible moving forward. 

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: April 25, 2017

Seniors relying on Airbnb and home sharing: What this means for providers

As baby boomers enter retirement, more of this generation is thinking about senior living situations outside of assisted living.

As baby boomers enter retirement, more of this generation is thinking about senior living situations outside of assisted living communities or relocating to typical retirement destinations like Arizona or Florida.

The fact is, many people want to stay near their hometown and maintain a sense of community once they enter the senior years. According to an AARP survey, 69 percent of respondents indicated they preferred to stay in their home and be near the locales they grew up in. These results make a lot of sense: Seniors want to be near their grandkids, sons and daughters, and lifelong friends, and as the old adage goes, "There's no place like home."

However, living on your own presents a lot of challenges once you age, both personally and financially. That's why a lot of seniors have turned to home sharing and Airbnb to overcome a lot of these obstacles.

"Home sharing helps seniors financially and offers a sense of community."

Mortgage debt and seniors: Looking at the numbers
After the 2008 housing bubble, it became clear that owning your home and maintaining a mortgage was going to require navigating certain obstacles moving forward. When you're a retired senior relying on savings, Social Security, and if you're lucky, retirement funds, the bank account is usually running low for most after the mortgage is paid every month. What's more, AARP highlighted a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Board stating that median mortgage debt for seniors increased by a stunning 82 percent between 2001 and 2011.

Home sharing: A new solution for senior living
Because of these skyrocketing costs, a lot of seniors are renting out rooms, or in some cases, their whole homes, on Airbnb and other home-sharing sites to pay the bills and still stay in their homes. In fact, Airbnb even put out a report showing that older Americans have earned nearly $750 million from relying on services through Airbnb, and seniors over 60 are the fastest-growing demographic for the company.

Others are turning to local shared housing programs that now exist in more than 20 states, according to Bankrate. Not only do these programs help reduce rent and mortgage payments, but they also curb loneliness and allow seniors to age in place: A win-win situation all around.

What providers need to know
As a home health provider, it is important to be even more mindful of these housing trends as baby boomers continue to enter retirement. It's likely that as home-sharing technology becomes more advanced and companies like Airbnb become the norm, more seniors will be looking to these types of arrangements as a long-term housing solution. 

With your patients likely living with other seniors or in home-sharing situations, you will need to be understanding of their living arrangements. Schedules might change and your visits might need to be held in these type of environments moving forward.

The home health sector is also becoming increasingly tech-friendly to keep up with these demands, so look to apps to help you organize your appointments and better communicate with patients who may be utilizing home-sharing services.

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: March 17, 2017

How to find a home health aide with the right qualifications

Carelike offers a comprehensive and un-biased database of home health agencies that meet your needs for providing the highest level of quality care.

Locating the right home health care provider for yourself or a loved one requires finding someone with the qualifications that best suit your particular needs.  For most family, there are many needs to try to match to a care provider.

One of the current obstacles facing care seekers is the rise in demand for care providers. As the average lifespan of the general population continues to rise, more people will need care providers, which makes finding the right match more difficult. 

Current forecasts highlight this trend and predict even greater demand in the coming years. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected the employment outlook for home health aides to rise 38 percent between 2014 to 2024. This is more than five times the projected 7 percent rate for all occupations over the same time period. These numbers illustrate just how great the demand for home care providers will skyrocket. 

Major growth expected in the home health aide sector will create greater competition among care seekers who are all trying to get the best possible home health aide. What are the right qualifications for you or your loved one? 

 

As demand for caregivers increases, finding the right candidate will become more difficult.

As demand for care providers increases, finding the right candidate will become more difficult.

What kind of training do home health aides need?

Finding a care provider with the right home health aide training remains one of the biggest challenges when evaluating prospective home health agencies and their staff.

Depending on yours or your loved ones needs, the type of home health aide training you're looking for will vary. It might include assisting with housekeeping or other instrumental activities of daily life, such as cooking meals and facilitating transportation to doctors or leisure activities. In other scenarios, you might need a care provider to take vital signs, dress basic wounds, has specialized training in dementia or Alzheimer's, or even help with medication schedules. Regardless of your needs, though, it's important that the home health aide you're seeking has the proper training to handle tasks and provide the best care and companionship for your loved one. 

New training programs are being launched around the country such as the Integrated Model for Personal Assistant Research and Training (IMPART) and Building Training, Building Quality (BTBQ), according to Home Health Care News. By identifying care providers who have undertaken these additional training programs to enhance their skills, you can find a better qualified prospect.

As noted by the source, studies have revealed that greater training for senior care providers:

  • Reduces turnover.
  • Improves care seeker satisfaction and outcomes.

These traits help ensure a better standard of care for you or your loved one. 

"It's important that home health aides have strong communication skills."

Foreign language proficiency

Foreign language fluency plays a major role in delivering top-notch home health care. If the care provider you seek out is unable to communicate clearly with you or your loved one due to translation problems, it can cause a decline in the quality of care. 

While many will accurately pinpoint Spanish as the second most spoken language in the U.S., the others might surprise you. After English, the top five most spoken languages in the U.S. according to CORE Languages are:

  • Spanish with nearly 40 million speakers.
  • Chinese with almost 3 million speakers.
  • Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines, with more than 1.6 million speakers.
  • Vietnamese with nearly 1.5 million speakers.
  • French (including Creole) with more than 1.3 million speakers.

Finding a care provider that can communicate proficiently with you or your loved one in a native tongue ensures a better relationship.

And while finding multilingual care providers will remain a top priority, it's also important that you locate a home health aide that has solid communication and interpersonal skills all around. The ability to build a personal rapport and establish trust through both words and actions are key components of a strong relationship.

How to find the best candidate

Surging demand for home health care aides will mean you'll have to diligently sift out underqualified candidates. Pouring over reams of paper resumes is a time-consuming and labor-intensive method to locate the ideal care provider. Additionally, how can you be sure that the skills listed are truthful and accurate?

Instead of spending hours online or calling dozens of different agencies, the data available through the Comprehensive Community Resource Finder from Carelike provides you with more than just basic candidate contact information. Carelike offers a comprehensive and un-biased database of home health aides that meet your needs for providing the highest level of quality care.  While many other online directories only list providers who are contracted with them, Carelike lists all licensed providers in your area - giving you the most comprehensive view of your options.

Additionally, Carelike's CareMatch™ Advanced Search technology, lets you narrow down your search to pinpoint the precise qualifications you're seeking in a caregiver, whether this includes providing specialized Alzheimer care, speaking a particular language or knowing how to handle specific health conditions. 

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: February 22, 2017

Marketing on a tight budget for home health care providers

Being more active on social media, attending conferences and leveraging Carelike's CareMatch technology can go a long way to improving your marketing campaign and boosting your referral network and client base.

As a home health care provider, you know the importance of networking and marketing yourself to continually find new clients. But carving out the time and money from your already thinly stretched calendars and budgets can make these crucial tasks difficult or even impossible.

However, with the right focus on a streamlined, cost-effective strategy, you can launch a robust marketing campaign with little money and minimal time.

Consider these simple yet valuable techniques for marketing your home health care business on even the smallest budget:

Boost your online presence

The internet has been a boon to small organizations and self-employed individuals who want to expand their reach and build their brand. However, it is surprising that many home health care providers will spend a substantial amount of money on traditional printed marketing materials, such as brochures and business cards, while neglecting their online presence.

"Your online presence reaches a larger audience than traditional printed materials."

Improving your online presence, position and reputation will help you reach a wider audience, and at a fraction of the cost and time of print marketing. Social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, offer you an open channel to upload and interact with current and prospective clients.

Along with social media, online review site and local business apps like Yelp and Angie's List are a great way for people to locate new services. Ensure that your home health care operation is listed in these places and that your contact information is available and accurate. These sites will also house feedback from customers voicing their satisfaction or lack thereof. While it's okay to reply to posts about your services, remember to keep things civil and professional, since this information will be available for all to see.

You can use these resources to upload insightful information about the industry, build up your referral base and keep your clients and peers updated on current success stories.

Attend conferences and local community events

Locating and attending conferences and conventions for home health care providers broadens your professional network. Forging connections at these events creates new referral channels and can even substantially expand your social media following if you leverage these interactions correctly.

From the National Association for Home Care and Hospice to the Home Care Association of America or the American Association for Homecare, there are plenty of organizations of all sizes that host conferences and provide numerous opportunities throughout the year to engage in networking. Even organizations like your town's Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce will host breakfasts, luncheons or cocktail hours to gather local small businesses.

Leverage CareMatch technology

Having access to an expansive nationwide network of families and seniors seeking care providers can be a great advantage to expanding your operations. With more than 350,000 senior care options available in the database, Carelike's CareMatch search capabilities let you gather better qualified leads while also letting care-seekers see your detailed profile highlighting your qualifications and experience.

Additionally, Carelike is in partnership with dozens of organizations that are looking to the Carelike directory to make referral recommendations.  Organizations range from patient advocacy groups like the Alzheimer's Association, to EAP programs, to hospital systems like the Mayo Clinic, health insurance companies, discharge planning software companies, and many more.  When you populate your business information with Carelike, you are not only getting exposure on Carelike.com and with their CareMatch technology but you also get exposure to thousands of professionals making referral recommendations based off of the information you provided Carelike.

Being more active on social media, attending conferences and leveraging Carelike's CareMatch technology can go a long way to improving your marketing campaign and boosting your referral network and client base. 

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: February 06, 2017

Tech making an impact on home health care services

Carelike's senior housing and elder care directory, coupled with its CareMatch technology, lets care providers quickly and easily post business information and service offerings.

Home care aides have long been facilitators of independence and good health for seniors. From providing assistance for individuals who want to age in place to ensuring their clients remain active participants in their communities, it's crucial that care providers have the means to promote this self-sufficiency.

Thankfully, an assortment of emerging technological devices and internet platforms have arisen that ease the facilitation of this independence and health lifestyles for seniors.

Social media keeps everyone connected

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media outlets have made the world more interconnected than ever before. While Facebook began solely as a means for college students to stay linked, it quickly transformed into a global network accessible to people of all ages. Increasingly, older adults are using the channel. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 62 percent of online individuals ages 65 and older log in and use Facebook - a jump of 14 percentage points from the 48 percent of this cohort who reported using the site in 2015.

"Facebook keeps seniors connected with friends and families."

One of the great things about social media is that it allows seniors to interact with friends, families and even strangers - a key component to remaining independent and healthy. However, the service also provides a channel for seniors to keep everyone updated about health problems or other issues preventing them from living life to the fullest.

Wearable technology

As computers become smaller and more ubiquitous, innovative companies have been incorporating technology into just about everything. This has facilitated the advent and growth of wearable technology. And it's having an impact on the home health community for good reason. 

Each year, roughly 33 percent Americans ages 65 and older and half of people 85 and older, experience a life-changing fall, Live Science reported. These slips can cause severe injuries and prevent individuals from reaching their phone to contact an emergency service.

A medical alarm system that includes a pendant or device that senses a sudden fall and impact reduces the chances for long-term injuries or worse. These devices have become much more advanced in recent years, with internet connections and immediate contact methods if the wearer doesn't respond.

Increased access to wearable technology allows home care aides to stay informed of any potentially dangerous slips or falls that might occur to the seniors they assist.

 

New technology has been key in allowing home health aides boost their quality of care.

New technology has been key in allowing home health aides boost their quality of care.

Matching with the best care aides

Finding the right home care aide and matching him or her with the ideal person is crucial for maintaining solid relationships. 

Carelike's senior housing and elder care directory, coupled with its CareMatch technology, lets care providers quickly and easily post business information and service offerings. The information is then sent to Carelike’s network of Channel Partners who license and view the provider information in order to make referral recommendations to their patients.  This robust and comprehensive search technology connects the most ideal care provider candidate best suited to the care seeker’s needs. For a minimal fee, care providers can set up a detailed profile with a comprehensive list of qualifications and experiences. This enables the CareMatch technology to produce more accurate connections that allow for better relationships between care providers and care seekers. 

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: January 04, 2017

5 signs you have a great home health aide

There are some tried-and-true signs that you've hired a great home health aide no matter what kinds of conditions your loved one is struggling with.

Finding the right home health aide for your senior loved one, even after months of research into candidates, can still be a roll of the dice for many people. After all, this individual is responsible for meeting the care and treatment needs of a person you have loved for decades, so it's understandable that you want to ensure your home health aide is the right fit.

There are some tried-and-true signs that you've hired a great home health aide no matter what kinds of conditions your loved one is struggling with. Here are the top five you should look for:

1. Good communication skills

Although a home health aide knows how to take vitals to prevent and identify health issues, the bulk of his or her job is going to rest on proper communication with your loved one, and with you as well. This starts with the home health aide having a good attitude and an open mind when he or she is talking through a daily routine, especially if there are changes to doctor recommendations or treatments. Above all, your senior loved one should feel calm and comfortable while speaking to the home health aide, according to Aging Care.

 

Patience and empathy are essential for home health aides' success.

Patience and empathy are essential for home health aides' success.

2. Professionalism

Before a patient receives care from a home health aide, he or she should sit down with both you and your loved one to discuss job expectations and his or her approach to care. This is also a time when you and your loved one should discuss what to expect during the day and what kinds of tasks should be carried out.

3. Plenty of patience and empathy

As with any care professional setting, providers need to have patience to best serve their patients. This is especially true if your loved one is struggling with a cognitive issue like dementia or Alzheimer's. In care settings, there are times when providers may run into frustrations, but during these times they need to remain calm and focus on the job at hand. Although this often results in extra time and empathy on their end, for providers, these two traits are absolutely essential to success.

4. A balanced schedule

There is a good chance that your home health aide is caring for several patients. This means you need to be respectful of his or her schedule and hours, and vice versa. Many home health aides today rely on apps and shared calendars to find a balance in the schedule. However, he or she should also be in communication with you when times or dates are rearranged just so all of the bases are covered when it comes to your loved one's care.

5. Experience with all types of care

Just like a doctor or nurse, successful home health aides have seen and been through it all, and that's a good thing. You want your home health aide to know what to do in a variety of medical situations, large and small. That's why every care seeker much look to the experience this individual has encountered over his or her years in the health care industry to see if he or she is the right fit for your loved one's health needs. 

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Blog  |  On: December 22, 2016

5 New Year’s Resolutions for care professionals

There are several New Year's resolutions that you could try to achieve that specifically apply to your work as a caregiver.

Believe it or not, 2016 is coming to a close, which means that a lot of people are thinking about New Year's resolutions. There are several New Year's resolutions that you could try to achieve that specifically apply to your work as a caregiver.

A new year is always a fresh start. Consider some of these New Year's resolutions for caregiver in order to have a happy and healthy 2017 for both you and your patients.

1. Take more time for yourself: As a caregiver, you often have a lot of responsibilities both at work and at home. And, more often than not, it can seem like you are burning the candle at both ends at times. However, your career as a caregiver is all about finding the right work-life balance. After all, if you are completely burnt out at work, you aren't going to be in the right mindset to properly care for your patients. Be sure that you take time off when you need it, find room to exercise and relax, and keep those extra-long days to a minimum. 

2. Get organized: With so many patients, medication schedules and updates to keep track of, caregivers need to take steps to be more organized. Fortunately, there are a lot of tech solutions that can help you accomplish this. Also be sure to document all of your patients' papers and files in an online forum so that they are easy to find. Some time management tools include CareZone, Evernote and Personal Caregiver, to name a few.

 

There are plenty of great New Year's Resolutions for care professionals this year.

There are plenty of great New Year's resolutions for care professionals this year.

3. Learn how to delegate and say 'no' when you need to: Caregivers by nature want to make sure they are doing everything they can for their patients. However, it's simply impossible to meet everyone's needs 100 percent of the time. To prevent burnout and make sure your patients are properly cared for, you will need to learn how to say no when you simply don't have the time and to lean on family caregivers and friends of patients when you can't be there in person.

4. Start doing your research: With so many therapies and treatments getting more advanced by the minute, the possibilities for better care are endless. When have some down time, begin reading studies and publications about caregiving so that you are staying on top of the best cutting-edge treatments. You could also take the time to learn about healthcare plans and reforms so that you are better equipped to answer common questions from your patients about coverage and costs.

5. A renewed focus on nutrition and exercise for your patients: Seniors need daily exercise and nutrients in order to live the best quality of life. However, this is far too often swept under the rug in most care plans today. While you are documenting your patients' care plans, be sure to also include information about diet and exercise so that you have a holistic care plan in place for all of your patients heading into 2017.

If you are unsure about what your New Year's resolution should be this year, consider one of these suggestions to get 2017 off to a good start. 

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: December 13, 2016

Qualities to look for in postoperative care

As a care seeker, there are a lot of things you will need to consider for postoperative care.

As a care seeker, there are a lot of things you will need to consider for postoperative care. Going through surgery or a procedure is only the beginning: Postoperative care is incredibly important as you heal from an operation, as the right care can lessen health complications and also bolster your recovery from a condition.

Basic postoperative needs
A lot of families prefer a caregiver be with their senior loved one consistently following an operation. There are a lot of reasons behind this: For instance, if a medical issue were to arise, such as an infection at the surgical site, a trained professional will he on-hand to give the best advice and ease worries. This is especially true for older patients, as their immune systems are weaker and response time to these medical events is critical.

Recovery is also every bit as important as the surgery itself. From dietary changes to physical activity to pain management, postoperative care requires a schedule and system that is best implemented by a medical provider who is trained in this field. Here are a few things you should look for in postoperative care:

 If you're recovering from surgery, postoperative care is crucial.

1. Caregiving 101: For recovery after most surgeries, your caregiver will need to understand some basic nursing credentials, such as checking vital signs, helping your loved one get dressed, administering medications and changing bandages. If the doctor recommends physical therapy, you might want to specifically look for a caregiver that also has a background in this field.

2. A focus on mobility: Many senior loved ones require home health services because they are recovering from an invasive surgery, such as a hip or knee replacement. For these types of operations, it is crucial that the patient is up and moving as soon as he or she is able to. Although every patient recovers differently from an operation, the main goal is to get your loved one back to normal, and that requires mobility.

3. Transparency about medical costs: Some recovery services and equipment might be covered by Medicare, while others require additional insurance or cost. According to the New York Times, most insurance companies will only pay for skilled care on a temporary basis if you are homebound. However, a good postoperative caregiving agency will be upfront ahead of time about what you need to get healthy as well as what is and is not covered so that you can make the right financial decisions for you and your family.

4. Care coordination: Part of caregiving requires care coordination. Depending on the operation, your loved one might require some tests after surgery to see if the surgery was successful. Your postoperative caregiver will be aware of these updates and implement the care techniques instructed from your physician.

The care you or your loved one receives after surgery is critical for long-term health. Be sure that you know the basics about postoperative care so that you can make the most informed decisions about your family's health and recovery.

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By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: December 06, 2016

The growing threat of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer's disease has become one of the biggest public health crises in the U.S., especially over the past few decades.

Alzheimer's disease has become one of the biggest public health crises in the U.S., especially over the past few decades.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, more than 50 percent of nursing home residents who used long-term care services were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, and it is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Although these statistics are alarming, they only tell one part of the story when it comes to this condition. The Alzheimer's Association also says that 47 million people are currently living with Alzheimer's or other dementias worldwide, affecting people from all walks of life. 

Alzheimer's at a glance
This disease doesn't just affect those who are afflicted, but it also impacts whole families and communities. Support from caregivers, friends and family members is absolutely crucial for patients who are trying to battle Alzheimer's, so it is important to understand the behaviors and challenges.

Alzheimer's goes through three general stages: all with mild, moderate and severe cognitive decline, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The progression of these stages depends on the person, but the disease can last anywhere from four to 20 years.

Cognitive decline can also afflict individuals in different ways, but some of the more common ones include difficulties communicating during work or social interactions, losing valuable objects, trouble remembering names, speech pattern decline, and the inability to plan or organize daily tasks. Eventually these symptoms can progress into more debilitating symptoms, such as forgetfulness about personal history, personality changes and physical problems as well.

 

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease affects millions of patients and families worldwide.

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease affect millions of patients and families worldwide.

Searching for breakthroughs in Alzheimer's
Breakthroughs in science are also needed now more than ever to stop this disease from progressing. As Forbes recently pointed out, a promising new drug, solanezumab, did not pass late-stage clinical trials with Alzheimer's patients, meaning that many researchers are going back to the drawing board and looking for a more practical approach to conquer the disease.

However, there are some glimmers of hope. Fortunately, many researchers and policymakers have recently made Alzheimer's a priority. According to the Alzheimer's Association, the House Appropriations Committee approved an additional $350 million to go toward Alzheimer's research this past summer after pressure from more than a thousand Alzheimer's advocates who expressed their concerns.

No matter what happens in the future with Alzheimer's, it's clear that a combination of medical innovation and informed policy decisions are needed in order to give families, caregivers and patients the resources they need to meet the immense challenges of this condition moving forward. 

Raising awareness
As Alzheimer's continues to affect more people in the U.S., various awareness efforts have taken place across the country. Many people have joined in Alzheimer's Awareness marches, worn purple during Alzheimer's Awareness Month and shared their stories on social media with hashtags like #ENDALZ or #IGoPurpleFor in order to shine the spotlight on the disease and research efforts. Many celebrities have also shared their support and personal stories about the fight against Alzheimer's, including comedian Seth Rogen, the cast of "The Big Bang Theory," athlete Tony Hawk, musician Grace Potter and fashion expert Nina Garcia.

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