It’s hard to think about letting someone else help you with the care you’ve been so faithfully providing. It’s natural to wonder if the arrangement will work — on all sides.
But if you want the experience to be successful, you need to make success a goal.
Trust that you are hiring a professional. Don’t expect it to fail.
And always keep the long-term goal in mind — maintaining your loved one’s independence at home for as long as possible — and know that superior home care service will accomplish this goal.
Think About the Home From a Stranger’s Point of View
Think about how you feel when you go to a friend’s house for the first time. You don’t know where the bathroom is or where they keep drinks and snacks. You are a guest, so you wait for the host to tell you: “Help yourself to anything in the fridge” or “the bathroom is down the hall.”
The professional caregiver is trained to respect privacy, but she is also not a mind-reader. If she’s coming to help your mother with meals, she’ll need to know her way around the kitchen and what meals mom likes.
If you have someone coming to help with personal care tasks like grooming, that caregiver willl need to know where the bathroom is, what razors your dad uses, where to find them and whether he likes the water hot or cold.
The more your caregiver knows, the better prepared she’ll be to meet your loved one’s needs — and the less you have to intervene or worry. And the more peace of mind you will have.
If you’re anticipating 24/7 care, walk through a typical day and night for your loved one thinking of how he or she uses the home space. Write down your loved one’s habits, routines and preferences at home. What are the favorite foods? How does he or she prefer coffee? Think about the things that wouldn’t be obvious to someone who does not live there, like preferences with lighting or temperature.
Give It a Chance
Like any new relationship, there will be bumps in the road. Building a bond or trust won’t happen overnight, just because you agree to a care partnership.
You want the best for your loved one, and it will be hard to let someone else step up to provide care. Stay open-minded and know you play a vital role in helping to build trust and rapport for all parties.
Both you and your love one will benefit if you can agree: Let’s just try this for a few weeks and we’ll go from there.
Communication is Everything
You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point, but your continued involvement is key to making the experience the best it can be. Keep the lines of communication open. Let the caregiver know that questions and concerns are welcome.
Above all, let your loved one make decisions and share feedback too. You might feel a connection with the professional caregiver, but if your mother doesn’t share those feelings, you may need to consider finding a better fit or investigate what’s standing in the way of a successful partnership.
Your loved one’s needs and comfort level should be the focal point of all interactions and open dialogue is the key.
Be Ready to Let Go
This is tough for many caregivers, especially since the caregiver will be in your space, doing the things you normally did. There may be times you’ll want to step in. You may even feel jealous of the connection between your parent and the caregiver, or wonder if you did the right thing by setting up care. All of these feelings are normal.
But again, think positively. Don’t think of this caregiver as a replacement or competition, but as a teammate, an added layer of support so that you can continue providing care in other areas.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Home and family are closely linked, so allowing the whole family to get to know the professional caregiver benefits all. Do the grandkids love visiting after school? Will the caregiver be there at that time? Having a family picnic or a birthday party for your loved one? Invite the caregiver to join.
Be Patient, and Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
There may be some bumps along this road of home care, especially during the getting-to-know-each-other stage. You’re all searching to find the new normal again. This can be an awkward dance.
Ultimately, this is a relationship with many people involved — the caregiver, you, your family, the home care company — and that means there may be disagreements, misunderstandings, miscommunication or confusion. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed.