Those who don’t care for the elderly often think that bringing a caregiver into the home is about safety. You have someone on hand in case Mom falls or someone to help Mom safely get out of the shower.
People who are actively caring for a loved one however know that getting help is actually about connection. An extra pair of hands enables you to spend more time with your loved one. Your loved one can worry less and focus more on the activities and people they enjoy. They can spend more energy on friendships, family and enriching hobbies.
Imagine if someone was around to help your loved one with cooking? How much more energy would she have to share old stories with you during your visits? How many more walks could you take around the neighborhood in intimate conversation?
Home assistance is an enabler of greater independence and connection with family.
The secret is to start small. As the old adage goes, ‘if you’re already thinking that a loved one may need in home care, it’s probably time to start looking.’ You don’t need to wait until there’s a medical emergency or large event.
Start with having someone come into the home for a couple hours a few times a week. The private caregiver can help with grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and other house chores. This can help your loved one ease into the adjustment slowly. They will also have a familiar face to support them down the road when they may need more full-time care.
Challenges With At Home Care
Jane Gross, founder of the NYT “New Old Age” Blog, often talks about “witnessing” as the most important role a loved one can play for an elderly parent. Despite our best efforts to fix and solve challenges the aging process continues. Consequently our greatest opportunity is to connect with our loved one through a witness of their experience. To remain present and to be with them.
Finding and keeping effective at home care is no cake walk. Anyone who thinks it is hasn’t had direct experience with locating and maintaining effective care. It can be challenging to find the appropriate person for your parent. Also monitoring caregivers and making sure the relationship is continuing to work and grow takes time and energy.
In addition, the transition can be challenging for your loved one (as it would be for any of us). Having a new person in their home is often discomforting at first and takes time to fully acclimate to. As caregivers take shifts and you take the time to find the right personality fit for your loved one, the change can be difficult for the elderly.
Again, this is why starting small is so helpful. Speak with friends about their experience with caregivers. See if you can find a trusted caregiver coming off of a rotation with another family. The key thing to remember is that acclimating any new individual to a family takes time and patience. The increased connection you will have with your loved one makes it all worth it.
How To Bring It Up
You have a strong relationship with your parent that has grown over the years. While there have been ups and downs you know how much they have given you. At this later stage in their life, when they need you most, you want to be there for them.
But why haven’t they taken the first step? It differs by parent but why haven’t they told you they may need some help? Or maybe you thought they might be the ones to plan for this years in advance, but they didn’t. When you know it’s good for them why is there some resistance?
Transitioning from an independent life to a life where you need help from others is extremely challenging. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Would you like to have someone you don’t know come into your home? Probably not. It’s a point in their lives when your parents feel vulnerable and don’t want to admit that they are losing parts of their independence.
The hesitancy to face the fact that they may need help is based in fear. This is where you can help. In a loving manner you can help nudge them towards considering the help they need. Below are some strategies and specific language to use:
- Two Part Conversation – Consider breaking the conversation into two parts. First, bring up the topic. During the second conversation talk about specific options (which we will cover later)
- Remind Them That There Is Non-Medical Care – Many people aren’t familiar with the fact that most in home care is not medical. The care focuses on assisting with Activities of Daily Living like cooking, dressing, cleaning.
- Use Ice Breaker Language – Try “I’m really concerned about your safety Dad. The fall you had in the kitchen recently got me really scared. How can I help keep you safe?”. Also try “What options do you think we have to get your some help at home?”
In general ask questions and focus on listening as opposed to telling them what they need to do.
Once you’re ready to locate a private home caregiver click here. You will find a complete end to end set of steps to find the right person for your loved one.
If you’re facing a more immediate situation and would like to know all the best strategies to find a caregiver in under 48 hours sign up for the email list below and we’ll send it over to you for free!
April 9, 2015
By: JP Adams