Trusting The Caregivers
How Do I Know They Will do the Job?
My husband wasn’t in the apartment. I looked everywhere; he wasn’t there. Then I got a phone call - he was at Walgreens - 4 blocks away, across a major street.
Typically, I would not be concerned, but life was different now. Sometimes, Dan had to check his wallet to make sure who he was.
Dementia and his behavior were becoming more than I could handle - he wasn’t safe and wouldn’t allow an in-home caregiver. I had to get help! The first facility we found was a small home run by a retired nurse. His stay lasted one night; he was so disruptive they sent him home.
Then, I called a memory care facility we had previously visited. They had no space but referred me to another facility 10 miles away. I called, spoke to their representative, and explained the situation.
They could accept Dan immediately. I had three requirements.
He would be safe.
I could talk with him daily.
I would have weekly updates on his condition.
They assured me that my husband would be in a locked facility. But because of the pandemic, we could only FaceTime and someone would give me weekly reports.
I believed them, but it wasn’t true. While there, Dan died of COVID; the staff made promises they didn’t keep even though I hounded them repeatedly. I finally met with the program director, but it was too late.
This facility was expensive and well-recommended. In all fairness, staff and residents got COVID, and many residents died. Maybe my expectations for an assisted living facility were too high, but I trusted them and paid a sizeable sum of money to get him quality care.
So, what measures can we take to ensure the caregivers we hire, the programs we enroll our loved ones in, and even the doctors who deliver care are providing what they promise? I’m still displeased with the outcome of specific doctor and hospital visits. Here are guidelines that I would use in the future.
One website suggests the following five ideas:
1 – Before hiring someone, conduct complete reference checks. Ask for four references. They say the first three will have only great things to say. ‘It’s the fourth reference that often provides a different perspective.”
2 – After hiring someone, watch your loved one’s behavior changes and body language when the caregiver is around or when they are coming.
3 – Look for sincerity in the caregiver's words and watch how they interact with your loved one. You will soon be able to identify phony words or actions.
4 – Install webcams in the home - ones that you can access from anywhere. They’re not for spying but for allowing you to monitor how things are.
5 – Check in frequently with the caregiver. Maintain a regular, daily conversation, whether in person, by phone, or by text.
6 - Have family members drop by as a resource to check things are going okay - make spot checks.
Assisted Living Facilities
A Forbes Health article discusses tips for finding the best assisted-living facility near you.
Know the difference between an assisted living facility and a nursing home. In a nursing home, aging seniors receive daily medical attention. In an assisted living facility, seniors get help with things like bathing and dressing, but they don’t require a nurse on call.
We visited several facilities before finding what we thought was the best placement for Dan. We had a sense of the environment, how staff interacted with residents, and the physical space. Some were sterile, others more friendly. Ironically, we were not allowed to visit the one he went to previously because of the pandemic.
There are free elder care programs. Volunteers help carry groceries, run errands, give rides, entertain, help out with making phone calls, write letters and reading, do light house cleaning, and cook.
Be transparent and fair throughout the process; tell people about checks you plan to carry out and get their consent beforehand. Be consistent; check every volunteer similarly, even if you know them.
Going through an agency rather than finding someone yourself is wise. The process is safer, more neutral, and more manageable.
With Family and Professionals
I - identify the situation - ask for specific assistance, and use assertive words.
D - describe the situation - clearly state what we think and feel.
E - express what we need to know or what we want the listener to do.
A - amplify or emphasize why we need this request and how it can help.
L - listen to whether the listener can fulfill the request. If so, say thank you and explain how you will follow through - if they can’t, ask if it is possible to negotiate something.
These safeguards can help you feel more confident about a care provider’s assistance. However, you must still keep your eyes and ears on the situation.
P.S. Thanks for reading Aging Well News! If you know someone who might like this article, please forward it or share it below.
If you want to contribute to my work, consider donating to the Alzheimer's Association. This link takes you to their website. The choice is yours.