At any given time, the majority of elder caregiving is performed by family members. Often, though, the elder’s health declines to the point that paid outside care services can be required for him or her. Whether due to an illness, like Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating injury or simply old age, the demands of elder health care can exceed even the most dedicated family caregiver’s capacity to give.
Shifting to paid care can be emotionally difficult, even when it is obvious that it is in an elder loved one’s best interest. A healthy transition can induce feelings of failure and guilt, especially if a senior loved one values his or her independence and resists.
Statements like, “I don’t need any help,” or, “I don’t want a stranger in my house,” can be crushing when you are trying to help. Just like a parent looks after the best interests of a young child, an adult child may need to look after the best interests of his or her elder parent.
Let us share a few suggestions for you to consider when launching into a paid caregiver dynamic:
- Reassure an elder loved one that hiring help does not mean that you are going to abandon him or her.
- Be present for initial meetings between the caregiver and an aging loved one to help establish rapport.
- Show outside caregivers how to do things in ways that are familiar and pleasing to the senior adult to help them feel comfortable.
- Tell an elder loved one that working with a care provider is something they can do to take part in his or her own care.
- Include an elder loved one in the caregiver process by asking him or her to try it out for a week, and then listen to feedback.
- When selecting caregivers, try to find a personality or cultural match to create a sense of common ground, although cultural differences also make for interesting combinations.
- Once the relationship is established always check-in to keep an eye on things.
Above all, an elder loved one’s quality of life, and therefore, quality of care, is the most important objective in any caregiver relationship, whether family or paid. Feelings of guilt can be overcome in taking steps to achieve this important objective. We work with families each day to solve challenges just like the one described here. Let us know how we can help you and your loved ones today.