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How to find trusted and affordable help caring for your aging parent(s). Respite care versus personal care assistance.

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Do you feel exhausted and completely burnt out from being a caregiver for a family member? Are you struggling to juggle work, being a mother or father, and being a caregiver all at the same time? You are not alone. According to, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 – AARP Research Report“, “Today, more than 1 in 5 Americans (21.3 percent) are caregivers, having provided care to an adult or child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months.” Being a caregiver in itself is stressful but other factors are not helping the situation. With the high costs of healthcare, long hours required from home healthcare companies (many home healthcare companies require a minimum booking of 4 hours/day for up to 3 days a week in order to get assistance), time restraints, lack of trust in a company/caregivers (many companies have more than 1 caregiver coming into your home with some having minimal training), and overall fatigue – many caregivers find it impossible to find affordable options for help with the little time they have. There are services out there that can help and you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg for them if you know what to look for. Below I offer both suggestions and tips on 1) how to get help while saving money and what services could be helpful for you 2) how to find trusted help. I hope that you will find these suggestions helpful.

Get help. Hire someone to provide respite care or personal care assistance : Respite care is essentially a service that provides you or your loved one a short-term break from caregiving. Respite care services are available through most home healthcare agencies. Respite care may or may not include personal care services such as: assistance getting dressed, bathing, toileting, grooming/hygiene, etc. There may be a separate service that a company offers that includes this type of help (personal care assistance) so make sure to ask what is included in respite care if this is what you’re looking for. I like to think of it like this: if you want to go grocery shopping, out to dinner with family or friends, or just need a break to take a walk outside; I would look for a respite care provider. If you need actual hands-on help provided, such as assistance performing personal hygiene or getting ready for the day; I would go with a personal care assistance. If you just need respite care and not the personal assistance portion – you should be able to find this at a lower cost. As I mentioned before, a lot of agencies have a daily minimum for booking. Some do not. I’m not trying to sell you on my company, Limitless Senior Services, but for sake of giving you an idea of what else is out there, I will mention that my company offers a minimum of only 1 hour for respite care and personal care services and does not require multiple bookings within a week. Now keep in mind that most companies will charge a little bit more per hour if you are only going to book for a shorter period of time but it is still MUCH more cost efficient to pay for 1-2 hours throughout the week versus 4 hours for at least 3 days per week! Search for “senior services”, “respite care”, “personal care assistance” or “home healthcare” in your area. Call each agency to determine if they offer shorter hours, a lower price for respite care versus personal care services, and compare prices. Keep in mind that sometimes you get what you pay for. If an agency has more experience and consistent providers coupled with great reviews, training, and background checks; this may be worth the extra couple of dollars. This brings me to my next point.

How to find trusted help: I totally understand the fear of having a “stranger” or even multiple “strangers” coming into your home or your parents home. My grandfather previously had his favorite watch, that he worked very hard to buy, stolen right out of his home while he was receiving care from a home care agency. I do believe there is a way to limit, if not completely extinguish the risk of anyone taking advantage or mistreating your loved one. Keep in mind – there is always a risk that something will happen to your loved one no matter if you hire a respite care provider or not. I like to think about home care in terms of opportunity cost. The opportunity to receive help and someone being there to keep your loved one safe outweighs the risk of something happening (which will be diminished when asking these questions). This will also give you more of an opportunity to take care of yourself and spend time working and making more money. I recommend asking the following questions about who will be coming into your home in order to give you peace of mind. Rest assured, there are people out there who will take wonderful care of your loved one.

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  • Will there be only be one provider or multiple providers coming into the home? Consistency is important, especially if your loved one has memory deficits, a mental health disorder, or a behavioral disorder.
  • How much training do you provide your employees? Could you please describe the training they go through? If you are concerned about training related to a specific diagnosis your loved one has, I encourage you to ask if providers undergo any training related to that condition. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease you should ask: Are your employees trained on how to work with people who have Alzheimer’s Disease? If so, what type of training do they receive? This is important because if the agency sends someone with no experience working with someone with Alzheimer’s Disease they may not know how to calm them if they become agitated and could escalate them instead. Please don’t think I’m saying this would absolutely happen! All I’m saying is if you ask the right questions you will have a higher chance of being paired with an employee who is more qualified, which will increase the chance of finding a good caregiver-patient match.
  • Do your providers have any licenses or certifications (such as a certified nursing assistant, occupational therapist, CPR certification, etc.)? Most home care agencies will employ caregivers that do not have any specialized license or certification. Others hold a higher standard for their employees and are certified nursing assistants. Sometimes you will find a company that employs caregivers that are nurses or therapists (occupational or physical therapists) but this is rare. Know the difference and what you are looking for. You may pay more money to work with an agency that employs CNA’s, nurses, or therapists as caregivers but keep in mind that these individuals hold a license and certification. Certified nursing assistants work under the direct supervision of a nurse. They are able to perform basic nursing related tasks (such as taking vital signs) and have basic training in performing activities of daily living (personal hygiene and self-care tasks) for patients. Occupational therapists and physical therapists go through rigorous training regarding how to transfer patients, assist with self-care tasks, transfers, and mobility. Caregivers do not necessarily have to be trained or certified. They may even have no experience working with people with disabilities. Know the difference and figure out exactly what you are looking for. If your loved one has any issues with chewing or swallowing or history of having a cardiac arrest I would recommend seeking a provider who is CPR certified.
  • Do you provide background checks/drug tests or reference checks on your employees? All of these things are important to know. I would definitely pick a company based on if they did all of these things versus one that didn’t! Narrow it down by figuring out which company limits your risk the most.
  • Is your business licensed and insured? This one is important to ask for legal reasons. God forbid if something happens to your loved one while an employee is working with them you want to make sure the company is backed by insurance.

Questions you should ask the person coming into your home: Most likely you will get matched with either a caregiver or a certified nursing assistant (CNA). If you are extremely lucky, you will get matched with someone who has a nursing or therapy background but again, this is extremely rare. As in every profession, there are good providers and bad ones. Know the signs of a good one versus a bad one. Ask them to tell you how they would care for your loved one. How many years they have they been a CNA or caregiver? What do they like about being a caregiver? Ask them if they would be okay working in a home with cameras in it? I know this sounds like a strange question but you don’t want someone coming into your loved ones home and being on their phone the whole time while ignoring them. Go with your gut when they answer these questions and look for signs such as poor eye contact, lack of engagement, and most importantly how they act towards your loved one.

I hope these suggestions help put your mind at ease and give you more confidence while searching for assistance. I am confident that you will find the help you deserve. I’m sending much respect and love your way and want to personally thank you for being such a wonderful caregiver to your loved one. They are lucky to have you.

Best,

Traci

http://www.LimitlessSeniorServices.com

This website does not contain medical advice. The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images and other material are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. The contents of this website are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research.

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of something you have read on this website.

How to keep your loved one safe in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home during COVID-19.

http://www.LimitlessSeniorServices.com

We all know that the senior population is one of the most vulnerable populations right now with the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many people are wondering how they can keep their loved one safe – especially when they are unable to physically be there to help them. With restrictions in senior living facilities and many people living away from aging parents and relatives – it makes it challenging to help. In an attempt to help guide you, I have compiled a “safety” checklist to use as a guidance for how to help your loved one stay safe and happy.

  • Make sure they have a variety of face masks. I would recommend having 3-4 cloth facemasks and 1 HEPA filter OR N95 facemask. The cloth facemasks can be worn for day-to-day use. I think it’s a good idea to have at least a few of the cloth facemasks for your loved one in order to give them the option to swap out facemasks and wash them in between uses. HEPA filter masks have been shown to provide more protection and can be worn if your loved one is going out to the grocery store, airport, or if they know they will be around a good amount of people. Obviously, the N95 mask is extremely hard to come by but is basically the gold standard for masks. If you are lucky enough to snag one of these for your loved one..DO IT. They can wear this instead of the HEPA filter mask and have even more protection! Etsy has some great options at affordable prices. Make sure you check the reviews and verify that you are buying from a reputable buyer. I also like prefer to get items delivered only within the United States.
  • Creative socialization is key – If your loved one lives in a facility or even if they are still living at home – there are creative ways to visit them or talk to them!! Ask staff at the facility if you can visit with your loved one through a window outside of their room. I have personally seen people do this at the facility where I work. It’s better than nothing. If you live too far away from your loved one or if this is not possible – call and ask staff at the facility if you can video chat with your loved one. Most facilities have access to AT LEAST one tablet. If you are having trouble doing this – ask to speak to the administrator or someone that works in activities. They are the go-to people to speak to and will get the job done. Finally, if your loved one is living at home alone and is unable to figure out how to access a tablet – there are still options. I would first reach out to a local senior center near where your loved one lives. See if they are willing to call your loved one and offer any sort of remote activities that your loved one may be able to participate in. Ask if they could support your loved one in accessing virtual activities. If you are still not having success, I would investigate nearby home care companies and find someone that offers companionship services. You can find these services for ~$30/hour which would be well worth it even if it is just 1-2 times per week. You could also request that they show your loved one how to access his or her computer in order to chat with family members. If this is the route you end up taking, make sure that you research the company well and make sure caregivers have a background and drug test. Ask what protective equipment they are provided. Please make sure that caregivers go through training and ask about the process for hiring caregivers and how they match a caregiver to your loved one. This should go without saying but please also make sure the company you use is licensed and bonded. Lastly, reach out to your loved ones often and make sure they are doing okay. Send thoughtful gifts, or even a card would do the trick of brightening their day.  
  • Don’t put them at risk, educate them on safe group gatherings – As challenging as it is, please don’t put your loved one at risk because of your doings. Wear a mask at all times when you are around your loved one and make sure to practice what you preach – practice good hand washing. Exceptions may be warranted if you are not spending time with others outside of your family or going to work. Just remember, even if you visit with one friend; think of all the people they have spent time with, and how many people those people have been with, and so on. I would also do your best to educate them on the risks of gathering in large groups, especially without wearing a face mask. If they are someone who is going to get together with friends no matter what you say – I get it and am a strong believer in the power of socialization for improved mental health. Educate them on how they can limit their risks if they do decide to be social. Gather outside, preferably in small groups of 10 people or less, and keep a safe distance from one another while all wearing face masks!
  • Grocery shopping – do it for them or order delivery – We are blessed in that we live in a time where groceries can be delivered right to your door! Offer this to your loved one once a week and they will appreciate it more than you think. Instacart offers this service for a very low and affordable delivery fee or, Amazon offers free delivery if you spend $35 or more (or something like that) on groceries. Schedule delivery during the time where the companionship provider comes so that they can help your loved one sanitize the groceries and put them away. I know this seems excessive for some people, but I personally do not think it hurts. Have you seen how people grope items at the grocery store and then put them back!? Ew.

I know how hard it can be for a loved one to accept help. Often, they don’t realize they need it until they get it or it’s too late. Try and find that fine line where you are able to help them but also are not being overly pushy about things to the point where it frustrates them. It really is a balancing act.

Can you think of any other helpful tips to contribute to keeping your loved one safe?

Kindly,

Traci

http://www.LimitlessSeniorServices.com

This website does not contain medical advice. The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images and other material are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. The contents of this website are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research.

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of something you have read on this website.