My parents are in their mid 80’s. Over the past six months my father has had a series of falls that have landed him in the hospital and he’s unsteady on his feet.  They have agreed to have help during the day and my father now wears a falls alert pendant for hours when there is no help.

The problem is they have fired many caregivers after only a few days and for trite reasons; one filled my father’s glass with too much water; another hovered over him or talked too much. He interviewed each one before hiring them and initially thought they were capable and nice.  He’s just waiting for the “perfect caregiver.” What can we do?  Ellen F., Newton, MA

Your father’s continuing dissatisfaction with his caregivers is not unusual. Having a new person in his private space, even for just a few hours a day, diminishes his privacy and independence so it’s understandable that the transition will take time for him to get used to.

One way to minimize the turmoil that is often felt when initially engaging a caregiver is to carefully discuss the tasks you would like for this person to do. Before interviewing prospective caregivers, work with your parents to create a list of specific tasks that they need help with, such as preparing meals, assistance with bathing, or taking a walk.  

Then, think about the attributes of the person you’d like to perform the tasks. Do your parents want a woman or man; someone who is outgoing and talkative or more the quiet type? Should they be able to drive and cook?  By having this discussion before interviewing candidates they will be more likely to hire – and retain- someone who is a good fit.  If you’re using an a placement agency, be sure to relay this information to them.  Remember, the more specific you can be, the better the outcome.

The transition to in-home support, even if not full time, requires a lot of patience by your parents and the caregiver. The first few days or week should be viewed as a time to establish a routine of tasks and to let the caregivers know how they like to be helped and when they like to be alone.  Your parents will feel much more in control of the situation and ultimately happier with their caregiver if they take the time to go through this process and communicate their preferences.

Finally, it’s a good idea for your mother or other family member to be present as much as possible during this brief transition period. If you don’t live nearby, I suggest scheduling a visit during this time. 

Share This:
Category: Care Planning, Caregiving, Family Relationships, Lifestyle