Tips for Finding a Professional Caregiver
For the first few years after my mother, Jewel, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, our family tried our best to give her the care she needed and deserved. We are very blessed to have a loving family and everyone pitched in when and wherever they could, and would visit often. My mother and father lived together, so much of her daily care could be managed by my father with my help because I lived nearby.
Working together to help care for Mom
My father and I made quite the team! He was able to be physically present a lot of the time to make sure mom would eat, have some sort of recreation (mom loved playing cards, doing crossword puzzles and word jumbles), watch their favorite tv programs together (hello, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune fans!) and get to sleep on time. I would be there almost daily to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, help with toileting and showering needs, etc. Probably, most importantly, I'd offer emotional support and love.
Providing support, including emotional support
Mom was in the first stages of her Alzheimer’s journey and was starting to struggle emotionally. She would often get frustrated with basic tasks and needed reassurance and kindness. It was very difficult for my dad to see his love struggling like she was, and he needed support to be able to deal with this new reality we were all facing. Thankfully, my children would stop by often to help; there is nothing like hugs from their grandchildren to make my mom and dad smile!
Finally seeking outside help
But over time my mother’s decline became impossible to manage without outside help. My mother had slowly reached the point where she could no longer safely be left home alone, even for an hour. Because my father and I run a business that requires us to be out of the house almost daily, we needed to find someone that could be with mom when we couldn’t. This was a necessary but frightening situation for all of us to deal with.
So many questions raced in our heads... Who can you trust to care for your loved one in a kind and safe way? Will Mom be afraid of someone she doesn’t know in her house? What if the caregiver isn’t attentive and Mom falls and gets hurt? What if Mom doesn’t like them? How do you even find a professional caregiver?
We struggled with these very real questions and concerns for the entirety of Mom's Alzheimer’s journey, but we also learned many valuable lessons along the way.
Tips for finding a professional caregiver
- Consult your loved ones, doctors, nurses, and any other medical professionals for their recommendations of Home Health Care Agencies.
- Ask everyone you know and trust that has had a professional caregiver in their home which agency they would recommend and trust.
- Do online research of each agency recommended to you.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the agencies you are considering.
- Set up an interview with a minimum of two or three agencies and have them come to your house. Ask about the training their caregivers are required to have.
- Select the agency you want to work with. Select the hours of care you will need.
- Have the new caregiver come to your house to meet your loved one and other family members. Introduce the caregiver slowly to your loved one and observe how the caregiver interacts with your loved one.
- For the first few days with a new caregiver, remain in the house but in the background to just observe how your loved one is reacting to this new person. Offer reassurance to your loved one as needed.
- Monitor the situation between your loved one and their caregiver; remain in contact with the agency.
- Secure the household valuables, such as jewelry and banking items.
Thankfully, we found a very sweet caregiver for my mom during the morning hours while my dad and I were at work. She was kind and attentive to my mom, and she got along well with my dad. My mom felt comfortable and safe with her.
It is difficult to find a caregiver for our loved ones as they struggle and decline with Alzheimer’s, but with patience and a lot of information it can be accomplished.
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