Caring for an older family member is something more and more people are juggling these days as 16% of adult Americans care for someone age 50 or older. One in three adult caregivers also has a child in the home under age 18. Nearly 70% of caregivers need to rely on other family members and neighbors to help out, and long-distance caregivers spend an average of $400 per month on travel and out of pocket expenses.
Even though people have been caring for older family members for centuries, they haven’t always been trying to balance it with demanding jobs, hectic family schedules, and the assorted stresses of daily life. In previous generations, other family members were close by to share responsibilities. These days families are scattered across the country or the world and the burden often falls to one or two family members.
Signs Your Loved One Needs to See a Doctor
When you’re rushing from work to a parent’s home to a school activity, it’s easy to miss subtle signs of change in their mental or physical condition. It’s important to take note of any changes, no matter how small, because one can follow another quickly, or make you remember something. If you notice changes like these, it may be time to speak with your parent’s doctor, because they can be signs that your loved one has a new medical issue:
- Extreme forgetfulness – a remote control left in the refrigerator, a baker who can’t remember a favorite recipe;
- Forgetting to pay bills or making odd purchases;
- A sudden disinterest or withdrawal from social activities;
- Unusual behavior, like sudden agitation or speaking loudly;
- Poor hygiene or nutrition.
It’s common to forget things now and then, or to need a little help with walking or doing activities. That’s a part of growing older. It’s just a matter of how much help your loved one needs, and what type of help. Take some time and figure out where your loved one needs assistance. Maybe she can still cook but needs rides to the grocery store. Maybe he needs help with laundry and doing physical therapy.
Make a Plan
The next step is to arrange a meeting with the entire family, including the person involved, to discuss what’s needed and decide on a plan of action going forward. If there is any physical or mental decline, schedule an appointment with the doctor immediately. It may be difficult, but denial isn’t going to make it go away. A cognitive decline isn’t always a sign of anything irreversible; it can be something easily corrected, such as an interaction of medications. There’s only one way to find out – a checkup.
- Have someone in the family accompany your loved one to as many medical appointments as possible, especially if there’s a medical issue. They can help remember information and explain symptoms and diagnoses. They can also serve as a patient advocate if necessary.
- Ask everyone in the family to check with their HR departments to see if there are any caregiver benefits available. It never hurts to ask and the results may be surprising.
- When you meet with a care agency, ask for a care plan specifically tailored to your loved one’s cognitive abilities, physical abilities, and goals. They are unique and deserve care that treats them the same.
Questions to Ask a Home Care Agency
If you decide to work with a home care agency to find someone to care for your loved one, it’s important to ask smart questions. This is more than just an average job opening; this person will care for a vulnerable person who is a part of your family. You don’t want just any person off the street doing that job! Here are a few suggested questions to ask the agency to ensure any staff they send are trustworthy.
- Do you perform criminal background checks and state abuse registry checks?
- Do you check prior references for caregivers?
- Are you bonded/insured?
- If a caregiver becomes ill or goes out of town, is there a contingency plan?
- Who is responsible if a caregiver gets hurt at the client’s home?
- Can you certify that workers are legal to work in the U.S.?
- Who pays state and federal taxes, Social Security, and unemployment insurance?
At Assisting Hands Home Care, we’ll ask a few questions over the phone when you call to form a basic assessment and set up an in-home visit. During this visit, we’ll meet with you and your loved ones in the home to see the layout and address your concerns. We’ll develop a custom plan tailored to your unique needs and present it to you for review, modification, and/or approval. We won’t match a caregiver with your loved one until the plan is completely approved. We take several factors into consideration, including personalities of both parties, interests, and services needed. If you have concerns at any time, we can arrange a replacement.
Caregivers for Special Situations
We also have caregivers who can help in special medical situations with care, education, and housekeeping assistance. Our services include:
- Live-in help and supervision for Alzheimer’s/dementia patients, so they can stay in a familiar environment;
- Helping osteoarthritis patients with light housekeeping, shopping, and recreational activities;
- Helping stroke victims recover by developing a light exercise plan and taking care of housekeeping, shopping, and errands.
Caregivers You Can Trust
Every one of our caregivers goes through a comprehensive screening process, including background and reference checks. We ensure that they are trained and bonded/insured before they ever interact with a client. To guarantee high levels of professional quality, our supervisory staff periodically conducts checks at your loved one’s home to review performances and confirm that the care plan is being followed correctly.
The in-home care we provide at Assisting Hands Home Care allows your loved one to stay in their own home as long as possible. Our services are more affordable than care facilities and we can give everyone the peace of mind they need.