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While there is usually a primary care person, caring for an elderly parent is a team effort. There are so many pieces involved in creating a successful care environment and plan that it is virtually impossible to do on your own.
Unfortunately, most caregivers don’t understand the value of creating a care team or even know how to go about it. Many of us lie to ourselves believing we may not even deserve to have help. I know I did for a long while. I thought it made me less of a capable caregiver.
My FIL thankfully paved the way for home care a little over a year before he passed. I already experienced some of the benefits of hiring home care. Even with this knowledge and limited experience, I still made several mistakes as I branched out to adding home care as part of our new caregiving team.
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3 Reasons to Hire Home Care
1. It gives you a break.
While your elderly parent may not be able to run errands and go out like they used to, there are still things that you must do just to keep your home running. There will most likely come a time when your parent will no longer be safe staying at home alone. That’s when it’s imperative that you find some sort of home care option to help you out.
2. It encourages cooperation.
It used to take me at least a week to convince my MIL to take a shower. She just wouldn’t do it no matter how much I encouraged, bribed, or reasoned. Finally, I gave up and added the task to our hired home care’s list.
I could not believe how much better it worked. It made me realize that part of the problem was my MIL was understandably self-conscience about having her daughter-in-law assist her in the shower.
After a few weeks of having only the hired caregiver do this task, my MIL felt much more comfortable with my assistance. Now, she accepts help from most anyone.
3. It provides your elderly parent with companionship.
When I first become a caregiver, I thought my MIL and I would become besties. I just knew that in no time at all I would be her closest companion and confidant.
However, just like you are a parent to your kids first and then a friend, my MIL could not let the person she believed was forcing her into needing a caregiver also be a friend.
The last thing you want to hear after a long day of struggling to make your elderly parent happy while also keeping them safe and healthy is that you are ruining their life because they now need you for survival.
Having home care actually improved our relationship because she is free to vent all she needs to about the unfairness of her situation without me getting hurt or angry.
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Mistakes I Made with Home Care
1. Not giving them enough to do.
They are here to help you. While you don’t want to treat them like a private maid, you certainly want them to help you with the normal functions of your home as it pertains to your elderly parent.
Let them do your elderly parent’s laundry, light cleaning of their spaces, prepare meals, take out the trash, change the bed linens, and wash the dishes they use. This is why you’ve hired them after all.
Do not be dissuaded by the argument that your elderly parent lives with you and thus the hired caregiver should not be expected to perform these housekeeping tasks. They are paid to help your elderly parent in every job and activity that occurs during their shift. Leaving it for you to do later is unacceptable.
Related Post: Finding Help for Your Elderly Parent
2. Allowing them to be the “good guy”.
My MIL is always looking for someone to blame for the things that she must do but doesn’t really want to do. As her primary caregiver, I am naturally the one that usually takes the blame.
I accepted this until I overheard an aide actually say, “Your daughter-in-law is the one that makes me give you a shower. She’ll get mad if you don’t.”
Of course this reignited a long-standing issue with my MIL that I somehow hate her because she now requires a caregiver.
You and your hired home health aide are part of a caregiving team. There is no “good guy” and no “bad guy”. You must work together to keep your elderly parent safe, happy, and healthy.
Additionally, the person you hire should consistently reinforce that you are on the side of your elderly parent. You are not the enemy.
3. Not planning ahead.
Even if it’s not something you need right now, or even anticipate needing; if there’s even a remote possibility that you might need it one day, add it to their duty roster.
The duty roster is not just the tasks they are responsible for every time they visit. It’s there to make sure the proper precautions and paperwork are in place should you ever need them.
With our first health care service, I honestly did not anticipate I would ever need them for transportation. But then came a day when I had no childcare, a sick child, and no other help. It would have been so easy for me to ask our aide to take my MIL to the doctor but since I had not mentioned transport as a need when we hired them, they legally were not able to help me.
But, because I had not added transportation to the duty roster, they did not have the proper insurance or permission forms. I ended up having to cancel my MIL’s very difficult to schedule appointment.
4. Not being clear on my expectations.
I don’t want an aide who is going to sit by my MIL’s bed and watch her sleep. I want someone who is going to encourage activity, sing songs, take her outside, tell stories. I want the Mary Poppins of home health aides.
Does that sound unrealistic or even unfair?
I don’t believe it is. You are paying someone to provide a care service to your elderly parent. You should be able to expect them to leave their personal lives and problems at the door and be at their best for your loved one.
Additionally, if you are clear in your expectations as you are hiring then you have every right to expect a hired caregiver to do everything they can to meet those expectations.
During the interview process, clearly state exactly what you want your elderly parent’s care to look like.
- Do you want your parent to get outside?
- Does your parent enjoy playing cards, working puzzles, or crafting?
- Does music help stimulate your elderly parent’s mood and outlook?
- Do they like to be read to?
- Is there particular TV programming that causes problems for your elderly parent? (This is a big one for my MIL. Watching certain programs, even ones that she says she enjoys causes nightmares and paranoia.)
Be specific and make potential hires aware of the expectations ahead of time. If they take the job, they agree to work toward meeting those expectations.
Related Post: 10 Things Being A Caregiver Has Taught Me About Life
5. Allowing the hired caregiver to dictate what goes on with my loved one in my care.
In my years working with hired caregivers, I’ve had them:
- Take my MIL “for a drive” without my knowledge.
- Give her food and drink without concern of her diet.
- Not follow the daily task list simply because “they didn’t think it was necessary”.
- Tell me I should be putting my MIL in assisted living to “make it easier on my family”.
- Inform me what they felt my MIL needed after spending less than 3 hours caring for her.
- Tell me my MIL was clearly faking her (diagnosed!) Dementia and I was foolish for believing her manipulations.
You know your elderly parent best. You are the person responsible for their daily care. You have hired someone to assist you and as your caregiving assistant they should be expected to abide by the care plan you have carefully developed that works best for your elderly parent and your family.
When the hired care person deviates from the plan they break the trust necessary for an effective caregiving team.
When you hire home care, remember they are there to help you. With some planning, clear and specific instructions, and remaining steadfast in your role as primary caregiver to your elderly parent, you will be able to add a valuable member to your caregiving team that will provide tremendous benefit to your multigenerational home.
Did you like this post? Have you made any mistakes with home care? Let me know in the comments below.
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Like what you’ve read? Don’t miss the other posts in the series Hiring Home Care.
- Hiring Home Care for Your Elderly Parent
- Interviewing Home Care Workers for Your Elderly Parent
- Prep Your Home for Home Care with Your Elderly Parent
- What You Should Do On Day One of Hired Care for Your Elderly Parent