Having a caregiver come into your home is a big step and takes some preparation. A caregiver can provide a range of services to supplement what your loved one can accomplish independently and can be the most logical next step for your family. While the transition might be the best for all involved in the long run, your loved one might be hesitant to have someone they are not familiar with entering a place that is most private to them. However, with a few steps, you can prepare both the home and your loved one for having a caregiver.
Mentally Preparing a Resistant Loved One
Having an open dialogue and involving your loved one in the decision-making process of hiring a caregiver is essential. Be empathetic to what your loved one might be feeling. From an older adult’s perspective, losing some control of the household, and having a new person in the home can feel overwhelming and evoke strong feelings. Discuss what aspects of their life may change (for the better!) and what will stay the same, well in advance of the caregiver coming into the home. Empowering your loved one with the following tips can help:
- Make your loved one part of the process. Have your older adult make a list of five characteristics they would like to see in a caregiver, and share that information with your home care agency. Always Here Home Care matches caregivers and clients based on their needs, skillset, and interests. Maybe both love classical music, photography, or grew up in the North Shore. Always Here Home Care has caregivers profiles that have a picture of the caregiver, why the caregivers became a caregiver, what they like to do in their free time and an overview of their certifications and experience. As a result, you can get a sense of the caregiver beforehand. Additionally, your and your loved one’s choice of caregiver is not permanent. If it is not a good fit, be assured that you always have an option to pick a different caregiver.
- Focus on the Positive. Emphasize that having a caregiver will be empowering your loved one to live their best life. Having extra help creates independence and not dependence because it will allow your loved one to do what they would like to during the day when they would like to do it.
Emphasize the numerous things that the older adult can do independently. Discuss how the caregiver will be supplementing their independence, not replacing it. For example, Always Here Home Care offers a College Companion, an undergraduate or graduate student, who can add intellectual conversation while completing small tasks needed, but still allows the older adult to remain in control of most aspects of his or her life.
Make it clear that the caregiver is coming to help enhance your loved one’s life. Ask your senior loved one what are some things that they wish they could do more of, such as play games at home, go to a concert in the courtyard at the library (when it is safe to do so), or just spend time in a park. Make a list of how the caregiver can help your senior loved one live his or her best life.
Additionally, have an honest conversation with your loved one about the challenges you currently perceive them having and what they see as potential areas with which they might need a little bit of help. Are they worried about remembering to take the correct medication on time? Do they need help with laundry and changing the linens? Maybe they can use some assistance with life and home organization? Discuss how a home care provider can contribute to all these tasks, leaving your loved one time and energy to spend on the activities they enjoy most.
By listening to your loved one and having a conversation about the positives of introducing a caregiver into your lives, you make it clear that your loved one’s opinions are heard and valued.
Communication with both your loved one and the incoming caregiver (and the agency) is critical for success. Discuss the positive aspects described above with your senior loved one well in advance of the caregiver’s start date.
Be sure to communicate your loved one’s daily routine. What time does your older adult prefer to eat his or her meals? When does your loved one like to get dressed (immediately upon waking up or later on in the day)? Is there a particular activity that your loved one enjoys doing each day? Is there a topic of discussion to avoid (i.e., politics or children, maybe they recently lost a child). Adding these details will help with the transition and limit any disruption to the daily routine. For example, Always Here Home Care has a detailed care plan that will be completed by you or your loved one before starting care that asks and answers all the questions above and so much more.
Work with your loved one on what boundaries you should communicate with your caregiver, so your loved one feels like his or her privacy is respected. Are there specific rooms or drawers that should the caregiver avoid? Be sure to welcome any questions the caregiver might have, so there is no confusion on what privacy boundaries he or she should expect.
Additionally, it is essential to communicate any house rules to your loved one’s caregiver. Sometimes it is helpful to brainstorm with your loved one five to ten behaviors you would like the caregiver to have when they come to the house. These behaviors are entirely separate from the care your loved one will receive but are focused on your loved one’s habits and customs. Does your loved one prefer that there are no shoes in the house? Is there a particular television show that should not be turned off or interrupted? By setting clear expectations, you can minimize any confusion or conflict along the way.
From a more tactical perspective, make a checklist of crucial medical information to share with a caregiver or home care agency. On this list should be
- phone numbers for your loved one’s medical team (doctors, pharmacy, and emergency contacts)
- Your phone numbers (home, cell, and work) as well as the phone numbers of at least two other family members.
- Medication list and schedule
- Physical therapy activities
- Any allergies your loved one might suffer from and dietary restrictions
Organizing Your Home
Try to make your/loved one’s home as functional and easy to navigate for the caregiver as possible. Any equipment that a caregiver might need should be easily accessible and ideally organized together. For example, if your loved one receives care that involves bathing and dressing, it would be helpful to have their toiletries and clothes on a shelf in the bathroom.
Set up areas for your caregiver to use such a place to a coat or store his or her lunch or dinner. Confirm there is plenty of soap and paper towels near a sink so your caregiver can take the safety precaution of washing his or her hands upon entering the home and throughout the visit.
Lastly, every caregiver might have different home requirements and needs. Do not be afraid to reach out to your caregiver or the agency to receive suggestions for home modifications and specific ways to get your home ready for a caregiver.
In addition to these tips, Always Home Health Care’s Case Managers are available to evaluate your loved one’s personal needs, talk through finding the right caregiver, prepare your home and loved one for this transition, and answer any questions you have along the way. Please do not hesitate to reach out!