Many of us who care for seniors are facing the need for in-home caregivers. We know our parents or grandparents need a little bit more help with some activites in their homes. However, we are not able to be with them during the day when these activities are needed. Making a decision to get help is a tough thing to do, but is only the first step in the process.
We search diligently to find just the right person to do some daily activities such as housekeeping, grocery shopping, driving to appointments, preparing meals, yard work, and personal care such as bathing. They may need someone to be a companion who will sit with them and supervise their safety. It can be a tedious process to locate, interview and check out the references on someone that you will be bringing into your senior’s home; a task that requires your attention to detail.
Most times when you finally find someone you can trust, things work out very well and you can rest assured that your senior is safe.
Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t work out as well. There are times when your paid attendant doesn’t come as they are scheduled, they may not do what you expect them to do or they just don’t “gel” with your senior. For these reasons, you have to start from scratch and find someone else.
“But I Don’t Need a Caregiver”
At other times, it is your senior who is resistant. They might fight against the notion that they are in need of any help. They might think that this person is an interloper or stranger and not accept them into their home. They might be afraid that this person is going to steal from them or just simply not complete tasks the way they want them to such as not folding the towels right or putting the milk carton in the wrong place in the refrigerator. Many times, our seniors have never had any help in their home. This could be a totally foreign idea for them to grasp and one that makes them feel uncomfortable.
As happened in our experience, our grandfather fired the helper we hired for our grandmother and we didn’t find out until after our grandmother fell and hurt herself.
Here are some tips to make a smooth transition when you introduce a caregiver into your senior’s home:
- The most important thing to do is involve your senior in the decisions. Explain to them the reason that you are trying to help them accomplish certain tasks. Let them help you decide which things they can do safely and what they actually need help completing.
- Let them tell you what traits they would like in a home caregiver. Perhaps more than one is needed depending on the task at hand.
- Let them be there when you interview potential caregivers. Let them establish a rapport to see if their personalities mesh well.
- Be there on the first day and for several days in the beginning and continue to pop in and watch what is happening, observe the interactions and the work being done. Facilitate as needed to keep things running smoothly.
- Let your loved one help “train” the caregiver.
- Maintain continuous communication with your in-home caregiver to keep things on track and informed about any problems before they become insurmountable.
- Be reachable in an emergency or make arrangements for someone else, another family member or close neighbor, to be available if needed.
- Listen to your loved one’s concerns and feedback. Work together to provide for their well-being.
This advice is aimed at those seniors who are still sufficiently mentally alert to participate in the process. If your senior is suffering from dementia, you will be in charge of the decisions without much input. We recommend that you think back to the time when your senior was more independent and remember what they would want. A type of person that might be able to deal with someone with special needs becomes very important. Being there in the beginning and at other intervals to observe what is happening continues to be advised to keep things running smoothly and safely.
We would love for you to share your tips on how you made the transition successful!