Oliver Massengale took over as his brother’s full-time caregiver six years ago. He says he hasn’t had time for himself in years. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)
By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
Born just a year apart, Oliver Massengale and his brother Charles grew up together. Now, in a two-story home in Compton, they are growing old together. But Charles Massengale, 71, can do little on his own.
The former tree trimmer has severe brain damage from a 30-foot fall, as well as dementia, diabetes and high blood pressure. Six years ago, Oliver took over as his brother’s full-time caregiver. He’s paid about $10.00 an hour by the state.
It was not a job he was trained to do.
“I didn’t have a clue,” said Oliver, a retired grounds manager at a college. “I was just so afraid of what I was doing.”
He constantly worried –- about giving Charles the wrong medication, about him getting bedsores, about his blood pressure. And he had no idea how easily his brother could fall over. One day, he was cooking and Charles was on a stool at the kitchen counter. Continue reading
Linda Maureen Raye at her sentencing at the Riverside County Hall of Justice. Raye pleaded guilty to elder abuse that led to the death of her mother. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)
By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
Yolanda Farrell lay mostly paralyzed in a nursing home, unable to feed or dress herself, when her homeless daughter persuaded her to move out.
“Essentially neglected to death” by her own daughter.
Linda Maureen Raye, who relatives say had been living in her car with her dog, used her mother’s Social Security to pay for a one-bedroom Riverside apartment and took over as Farrell’s sole caregiver in 2010.
Over the next two years, according to police and court records, Raye, 60, took her elderly mother to the doctor once. As her mother’s health declined, Raye stopped cooperating with a nurse sent to advise her on preventing bedsores.
Yet in 2012, Raye was hired officially: She began collecting about $900 a month from taxpayers under the state’s in-home care program for poor people, according to law enforcement authorities. Continue reading
Plaintiff Ginger Rogers (right) with one of her attorneys, Hina Shaw, reviewing the complaint that was filed today against Kindred Healthcare and affiliates. (Photo: Sara Feldman)
Professional caregivers filed a class action lawsuit in California Wednesday on behalf of hundreds of workers throughout the state. They say their employer, Kindred Healthcare and its affiliates, shorted them on wages, overtime, and breaks.
Ginger Rogers, a caregiver with 25 years experience, says Kindred Healthcare hired her in 2012 to look after a patient at a skilled nursing facility in Castro Valley, outside San Francisco. She says she asked her supervisor if she could leave her patient’s bedside to take a lunch break. The supervisor told her no, adding that coffee breaks weren’t allowed either, according to the complaint filed in Alameda Superior Court today.
“That’s illegal,” says Hina Shah, co-director of the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University, who is representing Rogers and the other plaintiffs. “The law mandates two 10-minute breaks and a 30-minute meal break for every five hours of work. But more importantly, the type of work that these caregivers are doing is physically and mentally demanding, and to require someone to work 12-hour shifts without any kind of break is very detrimental to their health and is onerous.” Continue reading
By Stephanie O’Neill, KPCC
(Photo: Getty Images)
It’s late morning as Linda Kerr of Canyon Country helps her 85-year-old mother navigate the indoor hallway of her Hollywood apartment.
“Be careful, Ma,” she gently cautions as her mother takes tentative steps forward. “C’mon, get closer to the walker — you’re walking too far away.”
The going is slow and precarious as Martha Kerr, who is recovering from a cracked vertebra in her neck, inches along the corridor guiding the walker for her mom. Her caregiver, Virginia, walks behind her with the wheelchair that will be used to transport Martha after the journey to the elevator is complete.
“The most important resource that a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia has is their caregiver — much more important than their doctors.”
This particular morning is a good one for the elder Ms. Kerr. She’s in good spirits, and she recognizes her daughter. On other days she’s more irritable, and she sometimes confuses Linda for her own mother. A series of strokes have left her with dementia. Today, the trek to the elevator lasts about five minutes and is the first leg in the Kerrs’ commute to the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.
They’re heading to the hospital to get help and become among the first to enroll in UCLA’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program. Funded by philanthropic dollars and a federal innovations grant, the program is designed to help patients and family caregivers deal with dementia. Continue reading