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  • Jon Shaw

In-Home Caregiving: Partnering With Your Loved One's Provider

In-home care is the most effective way to keep your senior loved one safe while aging at

home. In order to help your relative age happily and healthfully, it's helpful to build a relationship with your caregiver and work together.

In addition to providing your loved one with peace of mind, you can help improve the care they receive by forming a strong relationship with their caregiver. Find out how to establish trust, set expectations, and communicate with your family's in-home care aide.

1. Be clear about your expectations

During an interview with potential caregivers, discuss your requirements and ask them to share theirs. Creating expectations ahead of time will prevent surprises later. Even if you’ve already hired a caregiver, it’s still a smart idea to have this discussion to ensure a smooth relationship in the future.

Talk openly with the caregiver about any changes to your expectations as your aging relative's health declines. Trust the caregiver's expertise on new situations, and ensure that your family members can also meet their expectations.

2. Tell stories about your loved ones

You can make in-home care more personal by talking about your loved one's life. Older adults may be willing to share stories, or they may not.

When a relative is experiencing cognitive decline, it is especially helpful to discuss their past with their caregiver. Caretakers at home can best meet the needs of seniors by understanding their history, preferences, and emotional needs.

You can encourage person-centered care by sharing stories with your loved one's caregiver:

  • Make a list of your favorite memories with your relative

  • Describe their accomplishments and strengths

  • Make a list of events they frequently talk about - do they talk about their time in their profession? Do they mention their military service?

  • Consider ways to incorporate traditions your relative enjoys into caregiver routines.

3. Discuss preferences with others

As well as spending a lot of time with your elderly relative, your in-home caregiver will likely be responsible for household chores. Care aides and elderly clients have to get to know each other over time, but passing along your knowledge as a family member can help.

In advance, you can share with a new caregiver the following information about your senior's preferences for housekeeping and personal care

Personal habits. Does your father dress up and wear makeup every day? Does she eat at the dining room table or in front of the TV? Do you like to watch TV with your loved one?

Housekeeping hang-ups. When a senior has maintained their home for decades, it can be hard letting someone new take over — small differences may feel like a big deal. If your mom always folded towels a certain way, or washed her china by hand, those are worthwhile preferences to note.

Food choices. In-home caregivers often help with meal preparation, and are generally familiar with senior nutritional needs. Let the care aide know your parent’s likes, dislikes, and habits. If a caregiver knows your dad’s eaten sunny-side up eggs for breakfast for years, they’ll be less likely to serve him scrambled.

Activities. Is your relative more likely to spend time watching sports or reading novels? Do they prefer going on walks or gardening? Engaging in hobbies a senior enjoys encourages caregiver bonding.

4. See the caregiver as an individual; not only an employee

A caregiver at home can act as a companion and confidante to prevent loneliness for seniors aging in place. Through their relationship with your loved one, a caregiver is likely to learn a lot about you and your family. It takes both parties to get to know each other.

Learn about your parent's caregiver and get to know them. If you spend time with them in their home, this can happen naturally. If you live far away and communicate mostly by phone or video chat, building that rapport may be more difficult.

It's nice to feel appreciated and seen, so remember to ask about the caregiver's children, wish them happy holidays, or talk about a TV show you both enjoy. Your caregivers will provide better attention to your loved one if you build strong relationships with them, reducing caregiver turnover.

5. Communicate!

Effective communication is essential to a successful relationship between caregiver and client. It reduces the possibility of incorrect assumptions and helps you provide the most appropriate care possible to your loved one.

Let the caregiver know if they are doing a good job. It is critical to note accomplishments, whether you notice your aging relative is more lively after their part-time aide visits, or your parent is well-groomed and nourished after they need full-time care.

Don't be afraid to bring up the bad things, too. If something is going wrong, don't wait to tell your parent. Perhaps your parent thinks the caregiver makes too spicy food, or if they have been taking personal phone calls at work. To avoid a big problem later, communicate the problem early.

Become familiar with your loved one's caregiver. A caregiver can become an integral part of your loved one's life over time, especially if you live far away or don't have a close relationship with your relative. Asking a caregiver for advice and listening to what they have to say can show your appreciation for them.

Some questions you can ask are:

  • Is there anything I can do to help you out the most?

  • Do you notice any changes in Dad's interests or preferences?

  • What’s the best advice you can give me to help support my loved one?

6. Build trust

Providing in-home care is a deeply personal experience, including activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and hygiene, which may be uncomfortable without trust between the caregiver and the senior.

Some ways to develop trust include:

  • Before hiring a caregiver, ask for referrals from previous clients.

  • Communication expectations should be clearly defined in the relationship.

  • Learning more about the caregiver and getting to know each other.

  • It is important to discuss tough situations before they arise. If your aging relative suffers from dementia, they may become paranoid and believe their belongings have been stolen. If your relative has accused you of stealing in the past, let the caregiver know.

  • Allowing the caregiver to reach out to you in case of a problem.

7. Don't be ashamed of your past mistakes

In some cases, stubborn older relatives can make it difficult to find a long-term caregiver. This is a common issue for seniors experiencing dementia or cognitive decline. If your parent has rude or abrasive behavior toward you or your family, the aide is likely to behave the same way.

You should inform home care agencies upfront if former caregivers quit because of your relative's behavior. This will enable them to recommend someone who is comfortable and experienced working with challenging clients. It takes more than 10 care aides for seniors to find someone who will work with them for the long run.

8. Solve problems as a team

Despite the fact that home care aides are familiar with elder care, you know your aging loved one best and know how to handle situations that are new to you. The aide may have some tips and tricks for encouraging appetite if your mom isn’t eating and isn’t getting enough nutrition — you know your mom’s favorite foods, which set of dishes she prefers, and the best time to eat.

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