Four Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring A Caregiver

Depending on the type of care your parent needs, there are factors you need to consider. So if you’re considering hiring an in-home caregiver here are four common mistakes you should avoid.

Putting it off. There is a lot of evidence that shows using a professional caregiver improves the psychological well-being of nonprofessional caregivers (home health care, adult day care, adult programs). Studies in publications like the Journal of Aging and Health have found that people often seek professional caregivers to alleviate stress and depression that results from taking care of a loved one around the clock.

Not vetting the caregiver or agency. This process can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if a friend or family member recommended a caregiver. But this is a big decision. Do not make caregivers a "commodity". The caregiver will be spending an extraordinary amount of time with your loved one. Ensure it is the right fit and the agency provides the support you need.

Not keeping everyone in the loop. If you have been taking care of a loved one, and you have siblings who are too busy, lazy or unfocused to help, it'll probably fall to you to hire a professional caregiver. But once you find a contender for your parent's caregiving needs, ask your siblings to sit in on the interview process, which may help you avoid contentious issues later.

Not staying involved. It's important to periodically ask your mom or dad how things are going with the caregiver in case needs aren't being met.  Consistent oversight is critical to ensure you and your family are happy with the care that is being provided.

5 Tips to Reduce Aging Parents Loneliness

Many seniors prefer to age in place, but one of the risks is lack of social interactions.  Even with a caregiver assisting a loved on, there is still a lack of fun, excitement and connection to peers. Family members living at a distance may feel also add to the difficulty of how to help.

1.  Maintain frequent contact.  If you're used to calling Mom or Dad on a monthly basis, it's time to increase the frequency.  Significant events also require additional contact. If they lost a spouse or can't drive any longer, they need more contact.  You don't need any speecific reason,  just make it consistent and call often. 

2.  Visit in person at regularly.  Personal interactions are important. Not only is it better than a call because you can see what is going on, it is best for the senior to see you, get a hug from you and feel that you care. If distance and time make this a challenge, consider using video to make contact and stay involved in their life.  

3.  Check out community resources for elders where your parent lives.  Most urban and suburban areas have senior centers with  good opportunities to connect and make friends. Various types of entertainment and games are offered throughout the week at these facilities. You can even accompany your loved one to an event, arrange transportation or otherwise facilitate the process.  Many centers offer transportation services and a number of other benefits such as yoga, arts and crafts, bingo and many more activities. Committing to making connections with some support may turn a shy/lonely senior into a happier one.

4. For distance caregivers, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to check in on your aging parent at regular intervals.  You don't have to have a housebound elder to use a geriatric care manager.  These professionals are often nurses or social workers, experienced in matching the elder's needs to community resources for improved socialization.  They can find the activities, work out the logistics and go with the elder in your place if you are far away.

5.  Consider teaching your loved one to use technology.  Connecting with others through facetime and other means can be extremely useful. A computer with a camera is a bridge to anyone in the family.  Even an aging parent who has never touched a computer before can learn if willing.   If you're not good at teaching, perhaps a kind grandchild will do the job or you can get grandma to attend a first timer's computer class.  The effort is so worth it!

Convincing a loved one to get Home Care

Surprisingly, many family members resist in home care. Frequently our aging parents refuse help, despite their desire to remain at home. Mom or Dad often express that outside help is not necessary and that they are capable of managing on their own. Hiring a caregiver is seen by many seniors as a threat to their independence and an invasion of privacy. Please see below for some suggestions on how to approach the subject with your loved ones.

1. Work with the more independent parent.

In most homes there is a more independent parent. When both parents live in the home together, it can be beneficial to advise that the other parents will benefit from this additional support (when in truth both will).  This can help alleviate some of the distress and influence the decision making process.

2. Get the caregiver's foot in the door.

Secondly, suggest hiring a caregiver to manage a few household chores and NOT actual hands-on care or personal assistance. This can be seen as minimal help and less threatening to independence. This entrance into the home can expand into other services. The emphasis on the household chores and cooking / food shopping is an easy discussion. Once they see the value add of this caregiver and build a trusting relationship, it will be easy to ensure they get the help they need.

3. Explain to your parent that you need help.

When a parent lives alone or with you, discuss how you need help and assistance in the home for peace of mind. Explain to your parent that it would not only reduce your concerns, but also alleviate some of the tasks you are required to do. An easy suggestion can be a housekeeper to reduce managing daily household chores (cleaning, shopping, meals, and laundry). Many times family members are working caregivers, so suggest that by having a companion stay or assist with these tasks would relieve your of worries.

4. Call a trusted professional.

Seeking help and advice is never a bad thing. Finding a  trusted professional that your parents respect may lead to them heading the advice. It might be surprising their willingness to accept the advice of a long time family physician, a former or current home health nurse, or a family friend in the medical field. This individual can be used to sway your parents opinions and relay your concerns.

5. Resistance is not Personal

In many families, your conflicting role as the child and caregiver hinder your well-meaning attempts at helping your parents. The basis for your actions should not be confused by misguided guilt. Therefore, do not take their rebuttals personally or offensively, but rather focus on a necessary means to an end.