When you Realize You Can’t Do it All!
Caregiving brings stress. Honestly, most of us didn’t realize the amount of stress we would be adding to our lives when we embarked as caregiver. Allow me to let you in on a big secret. The most important “Caregiver Solution” is Realizing You Can’t Do it All!
What happens when Mom is declining in health and wants to stay at home but she needs help? Various family members have tried to pitch in to help but it’s not enough. They all dearly love Mom but unfortunately, they have to work! The adult kids who live out of state love Mom but can’t physically be there.
The other day, a daughter said “I love Mom and want to stay with her at home but I’ve got to work – I don’t have any choice”. I could see the pain in her face as she was telling me this, but the fact is that as much as she really wanted to be in two places at once, that’s not possible.
Possible Caregiver Solution
In situations like this, non-medical home care may provide a solution for caregiver needs. Non-medical home care companies provide home caregivers who stay with your Loved One when you can’t be there personally. Their main duty is to physically be there with your Loved One and to perform other contracted services such as assistance with personal needs, light meal preparation, light house cleaning, medication reminders, etc. One important fact to be aware of is that these companies all perform slightly different services. You can’t automatically assume that they will do what you would do if you were there.
It is important to interview different companies and various individual caregivers. Asking questions to the caregiver will determine whether the services provided will create a solution Loved One. Some paid caregivers don’t cook. Others don’t clean. Some don’t help transfer or lift your Loved One from bed to wheelchair to table, etc. You should not assume, but instead should ask what they do. It’s much better to know than it is to guess.
How do you find a good company or good caregiver? It’s been my experience that you need to interview several of them – after all, you are entrusting your beloved declining Senior to them. It’s key to do a proper caregiver interview to make sure you have selected the right caregiver as the solution.
When Cindy’s Mom was declining, one of the things we needed was a non-medical home care company with a deep roster. If the assigned caregiver woke up sick, had a sick child and couldn’t come, or had car trouble – it would be good to know up front that a backup caregiver would be only a phone call away. With smaller companies that is usually an issue – typically the larger companies have deeper rosters.
Don’t assume anything – we made that mistake at first. (That’s your bonus “Caregiver Solution”!) Many of these companies look the same, but you have to ask questions so that you will know for sure. You should question both the caregiver and the owner or a manager at the company. Hopefully you will get the same answers.
You may be able to “keep the lid on things” until something unexpected happens and the lid boils off. For example, you may have an issue where you (or your caregiver) gets sick and that thumps over a domino that changes a whole lot of things at the last minute. Not only are you deathly ill, but you are on the phone trying to reschedule long-awaited doctor appointments, caregiver schedules and therapy sessions.
Trouble when we were out of town
Once when we were away at an out of state conference, Cindy’s phone rang five minutes before the conference was to begin – it was her Mom’s caregiver. The caregiver said that, for whatever reason, she was not coming that day. She was supposed to be there at 8:00 am, when the other caregiver was leaving, but she only gave us a 5 minute warning that she would not be there. That was not a good position to be in. At the time, we were not with a company who had “backup caregivers only a phone call away”, so we had to beg relatives and neighbors to provide a caregiver solution until we could get back home and try to re-establish a stable schedule again.
Hopefully you can learn from our painful ordeal and not find yourself in this situation. The best procedure is to interview the company and interview the caregiver. Ask a lot of caregiver questions and always have a backup solution – especially if you are going to be out of town.
Sample Caregiver Interview Questions
What questions do you ask? Here are a few to get you started. You’ll probably want to ask these and other questions as you think of them so you’ll know what to expect from your caregiver.
- Do you cook? Will you prepare certain meals?
- Will you puree her foods (if needed)?
- If Mom needs assistance eating, will you help her?
- Specifically what will you do to help clean the house?
- Do you help transfer (in and out of bed and to the toilet) and lift?
- Will you help with baths, shower or personal care items (such as brushing teeth)?
- Do you have a readily available backup if you can’t come?
- Will you take time to have conversations with Mom
- Do state guidelines allow you or your company to provide transportation to local doctor’s appointments?
- Will you use your car or Mom’s car?
- Do you give medication reminders? ( If Mom needs to be reminded to take her meds, a good solution is often an automated medication reminder system).
- Are you bonded and insured?
- Are you an employee or independent contractor?
No doubt, you will have other questions. Questions are necessary. Every caregiver question will bring a caregiver solution! Make sure to add your questions to this checklist so you ask each caregiver you interview the same things. This way you will be able to make an “apples to apples” comparison.
Best wishes to you as you go back to work AND work to help your declining Senior get the best possible care at home~
We want to be friends!
Ok. That might come off a little fast, considering we barely know each other. However, we fully understand the stress and turmoil that you are facing as Family Caregiver. Our own experiences have given us great wisdom and insight that has translated into many a caregiver solution!
In our time as caregivers, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge that we desire to pass on. Likewise, we have met many professional caregivers, as well as other family members who were thrust as Family Caregiver. All caregivers have shared the same advice – Join a community!
We have since created Caregiver Connection. Caregiver Connection is a newsletter that we write personally and send to fellow Caregivers. It is full of tips, tricks, and even professional advice. If you would like to sign up, click the button below.
Thank You for being a Caregiver for Your Loved One – you are making a huge difference in their life!