In any new relationship, there is a bedding-in period. It can be a little awkward while people get used to each other. A relationship between your senior loved one and a new caregiver is no different from any other. It may take some time to develop. But this is an integral part of your loved one's life and hitting the ground running is essential. Follow these tips, and you can set the foundation for a successful and long-lasting relationship.
Setting caregivers up for success starts before you meet them or even before you contact an agency. This is a big decision in the life of your loved one, and in yours. This person will spend time alone with your senior in his or her home, so you need to gather together the whole family , or everyone involved in the senior's care, and include them in the decision. Then ask yourselves some questions:
What are my loved one’s needs?
Is it medical care? If so, home care may not be the right option. Does your loved one need some minor help around the home with housework? Does he or she need help with personal care like bathing and getting dressed, or even just getting around the house? Does Mom or Dad need companionship? Isolation in seniors can often lead to further problems. Make a list of your loved one’s needs and be ready to share them with the caregiver or agency so you can determine what kind of care you need. (links to health care v home care article).
How often is care needed?
Does Mom or Dad need someone to visit every day? Would a couple of hours a week be enough to help your loved one with what he or she needs? Are the mornings when help is needed or would the caregiver be better to visit at night?
How much time do I need?
Hiring a professional caregiver to help can give you a much-needed break. But leaving your loved one can leave you with a sense of guilt: It shouldn’t. Be honest with yourself about what you need and plan accordingly.
Speak to Your Loved One
Remember that talking to an elderly loved one about bringing in a professional caregiver can be an emotive topic. Your mom or dad may be fiercely independent, and it can be hard to bring this person around to the idea of daily assistance. For more help, check out these tips on talking to a parent about care.
Consult the Professionals
Once you have worked out what your loved one’s requirements may be, it’s time to contact an agency. Agencies should offer a free consultation. They can talk to you about your loved one’s needs, and whether they align with what they can offer. They should give you an estimate of cost, and they may also be able to provide you with some advice on what options you have for funding the care.
Choosing a Caregiver
Once you’ve identified an agency, there are common questions to ask when considering a caregiver:
Do this person's skills and experience align with what your loved one needs?
If your loved one has dementia and one caregiver has professional training in caring for seniors with dementia, that’s a solid match. If you’re worried about your loved one falling, look for a caregiver with a fall-prevention qualification.
Does this person’s availability match with your loved one’s schedule?
Availability can easily be overlooked. If your loved one needs help in the morning and the caregiver only works evenings, that won't work. If your loved one needs care five days a week and the caregiver is fully booked on three of those, you’ll need alternative options.
Is this person’s personality compatible with your loved one?
Talk to the caregiver to assess – you know your loved one best. This will be an essential person in your loved one's life and ensuring compatibility is vital.
Work on a Care Plan
The right agency will take your concerns and use them to build a care plan. Be clear about what you will be doing as a family and what you are expecting of this person. Make sure everyone involved in the care of the senior knows their role: If everyone knows his or her responsibilities, then you can ensure that your loved one’s care is as seamless as possible.
Learn more about preparing a professional care plan by clicking here. Remember that your loved one’s needs will evolve and that the care plan is a living document that needs to change with them.
Arrange a meeting between your loved one and the caregiver. Be there to introduce them and to help them bond. When your loved one seems settled, leave them to get to know each other and go to the kitchen or somewhere else out of the room. Your loved one will know that you’re close if he's not comfortable, but you’ll also give them space to bond.
Caring for your loved one is now a shared responsibility. It's essential that you keep the professional caregiver abreast of any changes you've seen in your loved one, and they should do the same with you. Take advantage of their training and experience: They may pick up on subtle changes of which you may not be aware. That's when you know you've genuinely retained superior home care.
If It’s Not Working, Act
Give it a short time and see how things go. Talk to your loved one. Is Mom or Dad happy? Is here or she receiving the help they need? If it’s not working out for your loved one, there is no shame in telling the agency and asking to try a different caregiver. If things aren’t quite right, let them know, and they should be happy to help. This could be a long-term relationship for your loved one, and it's essential that it be with the right person.
And if you discover you need to make a switch, learn tasteful tactics to deploy when switching professional caregivers.