Surprisingly, they are not related to issues of safety or health.
This week we started with a new agency and caregiver. I spent two and a half days at mom’s helping our new live-in aide get acclimated to her schedule, routine and the house.
She is a lovely person who wants to get everything right and has a deep respect for elders that is culturally based. That is good and bad. It is good because she is attentive and treats mom like she would her own mother or grandmother, as if they are living in her country of origin. It is bad because she is too attentive sometimes.
Here are two examples:
- Mom was eating breakfast and her “bib” started to slide down. Without any warning, she leaned in and adjusted it in the middle of mom eating.
- Mom had taken her arthritis medicine and again, in trying to be helpful, the new caregiver started to put the bin that mom stores her nighttime stuff in away. Mom wasn’t finished with her routine.
These are the same mistakes that all her other caregivers made in the first couple of days in their new job. Again, let me state that it comes from a place of caring and wanting to be helpful. The dilemma, and it’s a big one, is that mom, like most women of her generation, does not address a problem in that moment. Instead, she says nothing, lets all the frustrations build up and then yells at the caregiver and blindsides them.
It is the family’s responsibility to give professional caregivers the insight and tools to be successful at their job. If you hire a caregiver and walk away expecting it to magically work, you are setting up this situation for failure. We know the good, the bad and the ugly about our caree. That is important information to share.
You know from reading this blog that mom is legally blind and otherwise in great health for someone less than six months away from 90. What is hard is that mom’s eyes don’t look like she is blind and if she is keyed into you, looking at you, it is easy to forget. On top of that are the cultural differences between mom and her live-in aide that need to be navigated.
Before I left, I wrote out “Tips to get along with mom.” I went over the list with mom and together we went over the list with her new caregiver. I knew if I did not intervene that this relationship would start off badly and it has to work or mom can no longer stay in her home. This list my seem simple, it may seem like common sense, but most live-in aides are nervous when they start a new job. When you are nervous you tend to default to what you know best and that can result in a cultural clash.
Tips to get along with mom
- She is hard of hearing.
- Please call her name before talking to her or asking her a question.
- Speak louder than you think you need to.
- Don’t talk to her from another room.
- She is blind even though it often does not seem like it.
- Please let her know if you walk out of the room. She doesn’t need to know where you are going, just that you have left.
- Please let her know when you walk into a room.
- Do not take anything out of her hands to do it for her. ASK if you may help. Then abide by her decision even if it takes longer for her to do it OR she makes a mess.
- If you are going to adjust her clothes AT All, please do not just do it. ASK if you may adjust her sweater. Mom is not concerned about looking neat all the time unless someone else is here. Even then, what may bother you just may not bother her, so leave it be. It is her personal space and body.
- If you take something out of the drawer or cabinet, take notice of where it came from and put it back in the same place.
- Don’t move things around in the fridge.
- Let mom work at her own pace
- Do not pull her cart, just guide it and direct her verbally
- If she is doing something, putting in next eye drop or medication can wait.
- She has her nighttime routine. You can walk out of the room and let her do it and then return to continue to help her.
What would your tips to get along with your caree include?
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract.” This book explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems. Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract.