While it wasn’t an easy decision, you finally came to the conclusion that you could use some extra help caring for your parent. But now you feel overwhelmed again with all the “what ifs.” Where do you go from here? First, take a deep breath; then read on for some helpful tips to navigate senior home care.
Finding the right caregiver
When you’re inviting a new caregiver into your parent’s home, it’s bound to introduce some anxious feelings. Knowing as much as possible beforehand can allay many concerns for both of you. Thoroughly research potential home care providers to find the one that you trust and has caregivers with the skills, background, and compassion you are looking for to care for your loved one.
A reputable provider will want to meet with you and do an assessment to determine what services are needed, how often, and which caregiver would be the best fit. To make sure your parent will be comfortable and happy with the caregiver, it’s important for the provider to know what your needs are to make the right match.
- Explain your preferences: During the assessment with the provider, you and your parent should express your needs. For example, how much assistance will your parent require with laundry, errands, meal preparation, and/or light housekeeping? Will they need help with activities like bathing, dressing, taking medications and exercising?
- Hours needed: How many hours per day do you think your parent requires assistance? The home care provider can provide the help you need when it works best for you. A plan of care should be developed with your parent and family members to ensure your collective needs will be met.
Planning for the caregiver’s arrival
Now you’ve been matched with a caregiver. The next step is planning for their arrival. One of the most important elements of a successful transition is solid communication between your parent, you, and the caregiver. You want to make sure your parent feels empowered to communicate his or her needs with the caregiver. At the same time, it’s imperative that you welcome the caregiver’s questions so they feel comfortable asking for information that can help them do their job and provide for your parent’s safety.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your parent before the caregiver arrives:
- How can the caregiver best respect your parent’s privacy? Answering this question can help establish healthy boundaries. Are certain rooms or areas off limits? Let them know.
- What should your rules and expectations be? Considering this ahead of time can foster a welcoming and positive environment. Think about: Where should the caregiver park? What door should they use to enter? Should the caregiver knock or just come in? What restroom should the caregiver use? What about cultural or religious considerations that are important, like preferred language or food restrictions?
- What are your preferences for daily activities? Let the caregiver know if mom or dad likes to bathe before or after breakfast, if they like to take a daily walk, what their favorite TV shows are, or if they need help getting to any weekly activities.
- What’s the best method for daily communication? Many people find a dry-erase white board to be a consistently easy way to communicate with caregivers.
Next, consider the physical space. You will want to organize the supplies and areas of the home the caregiver might need. For example, if your parent needs personal care, make sure clothes and toiletries are easy to find and access. This goes for cooking items, as well, if the caregiver will be providing meals. Also, set up a place for the caregiver to hang their coat and store their food.
Working with the caregiver
Once the caregiver starts to care for your parent, make sure you communicate your preferences with them. Here are some other considerations:
- What if more care is needed? While your parent is receiving home care services, you may find that they need more help. You may be afraid to upset your parent with change. This is the time to remind yourself and your parent why you needed help in the first place — to enable your parent to live safely at home. Also, remind your parent that their needs will likely change over time, and that may necessitate different kinds of care. If you work with a comprehensive home care provider, you will be able to add services seamlessly without disrupting your parent’s routine.
- What if you require a different caregiver? Sometimes your parent isn’t happy with the current caregiver. If that’s the case, sit down with your parent and discuss how things are or are not working well, then try another caregiver to find the perfect fit. A reputable provider does everything it can to match care needs as well as personalities.
Looking for more helpful resources on living safely at home? Click here.