How To Keep An Eye on a Caregiver
Your parent was alone in the house all day, so you hired a senior in-home caregiver. Now you wonder, how can you be sure the person you hired meets your parent’s needs while also being compassionate and trustworthy? So you still worry. It’s natural.
The step you took in hiring someone to care for your beloved parent was the right one. Now let us give you some tips about keeping an eye on things so you can breathe easily. Remember, at Oasis Senior Advisors, we offer complimentary guidance and professional advising services to people like you and your parents as you navigate the world of senior living. Reach out today with our online form or by calling 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901.
Feeling Good about your In-Home Caregiver
As supervisor of your parent’s caregiver, you want to keep that relationship positive and respectful. They are a great ally and collaborator in the care of your loved one and, as such, deserve a good boss (that’s you). Be considerate of what the job takes. What is it like to care for your parent? Are they challenging to care for, easy, or somewhere in between?
Establishing clear expectations with the caregiver as you work together is important. You will come to understand more as time goes on, and if both of you can be flexible and collaborative while staying in good communication, things should work out well.
However, if you feel uneasy, take action. The most important thing is your parent’s well-being, and second on the list is your peace of mind.
● In-home caregiver’s daily duties.
It’s ideal if you make this expectation part of the job description from the start, but if you are reading this after in-home care has begun, it’s not too late. This log can include brief notes about your parent’s mood, medications taken, and appetite, and list any problems or questions to discuss. If you are working with an agency, they may be able to supply this information to you.
● Communicate regularly.
Set parameters with your caregiver about communication, but make it clear that you may call during their shift. Are you both comfortable with texting during the day for minor issues? Would a weekly 15-minute check-in phone call be ok? Neither of you wants to overwhelm the other, but between the daily logs and reasonable opportunities to touch base, you both should feel secure and supported by the other with the goal of making things as safe and pleasant as possible for your parent.
● Drop in unexpectedly.
This is your right and a good idea. You are not dropping in on your caregiver but your parent. Unannounced visits are important for the caregiver to understand you take your parent’s well-being seriously, that you interrupt your own schedule to visit and care for your loved one and will be around. It can also help them by giving them a breather or breaking the monotony. If your parent is sleeping, eating, or otherwise not engaged, have a cup of coffee with the caregiver, chat, connect. Remember to make this an ongoing habit, not just in the first weeks or months.
When you stop in, look for indications of how their time is being spent. Check if your parent is feeling upbeat and alert, is clean and fed, and not just zoning out with the TV every time you stop in. Do you get a feeling that they are getting to know each other and having conversations? What is their rapport like? Do they seem to have a connection?.
● Loop the neighbors in.
If your parent has trusted, engaged neighbors, keep them in the loop, mention the arrangements you have made. See if they’ll let you introduce them to the new caregiver, put a face to a name, and show the caregiver that there are people nearby who care about your parent, people she can turn to in a pinch. Making sure that members of the care team – the safety net – are connected is often overlooked. Some of your parent’s friendly neighbors may even be willing to make an unexpected visit now and then to say hi and to get a feel for things. Perhaps they can run an errand that will help the caregiver.
● Get feedback from your parent.
This seems obvious, but often seniors with in-home care are loath to divulge issues. They may worry about costing someone their job, even if they are not happy with the person. Or they may be so grateful to stay in their home that they don’t want to risk that by complaining. Perhaps they are concerned about repercussions from the caregiver for talking negatively about some aspect of their care. So, if your parent is not sharing with you, ask.
On the other hand, your parent might prefer to go back to the way things were before the caregiver was hired. If so, they may complain just to get rid of them. They wouldn’t be the first person to sabotage their own care. Use your judgment about the complaints, but listen to them regardless, and always with an open mind.
● If it feels wrong, it probably is.
You know your parent. You can likely sense the subtle shifts in mood and affect that come when they are not at their best, feeling good, and being cared for. If you get a funny feeling from the caregiver, sense your parent is not doing well under their care, or any other uneasy gut reaction, trust it.
Most people who choose to go into caregiving do so with altruistic and admirable intentions. But it is difficult, often exhausting work, and you want to ensure that their bad day does not impact your parent’s quality of life. Take care of your loved one’s caregiver; everyone will benefit. Keeping your finger on the pulse is how you will ensure a positive, ongoing relationship with the person looking after your parent and, in turn, your parent.
Let Oasis Senior Advisors Help
Baby boomers have now reached the age when they must begin caring for their aging parents. While they try to embrace the aging process for themselves, they may not be comfortable leaving their parents in the care of a stranger. To ensure the safety, well-being, and peace of mind of all those involved, it becomes even more important for everyone to be educated and informed about who they entrust their parent’s care to. Let Oasis Senior Advisors help you understand the many benefits of in-home care, the potential risks and how to navigate them – and how to ensure an excellent quality of care. We understand the struggles, fears, and hesitation of leaving your parent in the care of another because we have been in your shoes. Call 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901 or use our online form.