Archive | September 2014

Avoiding “The Eldercare” Talk

By Cindy Sproles

In a perfect world all aging parents would understand at some point in their lives, there will be need for assistance. When the time arrives, parents would willingly comply with the suggestions of their well-meaning children. But it’s not a perfect world. And…we avoid having the conversation. Here are a couple of reasons why.

*Anger

No one likes to admit their abilities are slowly becoming inabilities, especially when, through the years, they’ve been independent, self-reliant and able. Still avoiding the conversation is not wise.

There’s always an excuse to prevent families from discussing the care of their aging parents. One of the greatest fears in sharing this information is anger. It’s difficult for parents to hear the words, “You need help.” Remember, our parents were raised during an era in America when they were forced to be self-sufficient. Many survived World War II and even some lived through the Great Depression. Times were hard and survival depended on their determination to care for themselves. Be sensitive to this ingrained independence and self-preservation. Many parents know they need assistance but simply refuse to accept the truth. Sometimes handling the conversation of acceptance in little doses is better. For example, a parent’s laundry may be stacking up because their washing machine is located in a basement. Getting up and down the stairs with a load is hard. They realize this and let the laundry slide. Approach the subject from the laundry stand point as opposed to saying, “You can’t do this anymore.” A dialogue might be like this:

“I see you’re towels are low in the hall closet. Can I help you get that laundry done?” This can lead to conversation that helps the parent see a need for assistance. Perhaps suggest having the appliances moved upstairs for convenience or “Maybe we can find someone to come by weekly and do the laundry for you.” Will there be resistance? Probably. But the subject is approached from a task needing to be completed rather than saying they are just not able anymore. It may take time, but small doses of conversation showing need is better received.

*Depression

Families fear an onset of depression when aging parents are approached with a need for assistance. Depression is a possibility, especially in those who have lost spouses. When a parent has depended on a spouse for 50+ years, that spouse dies…two things can happen. The surviving parent over compensates by taking a strong initiative in their life or they sink into a deep depression feeling as though they can do nothing for themselves. Depression is best handled by a physician but it is not a reason to gently approach aging parents about assistance in their homes, especially if they are in situations that could endanger them.

*The truth hurts
Unfortunately, the reality of aging hurts. Our immortality becomes imminent especially as they see their peers enter nursing care facilities or pass away. Aging can be frightening and it’s something only few face head on.

The fact remains, if an aging parent needs assistance, take time to have the discussion about their care. Nothing supercedes their health and safety. The conversation is never easy but there are ways to approach the subject that eases tension.

The Terrible F-word…Fear

As baby boomers assume more and more responsibility for their aging parents a number of issues move to the forefront—questions that need to be answered, fears that need to be soothed.

Providing appropriate care for our aging parents places a huge and unexpected burden on young families. Adult children are torn as to how to offer the most appropriate care for their parents.

Here are a few suggestions which will help ease the fear that accompanies the decisions for our aging parents.

Private caregivers verses company hired caregivers. The first choice of family members for the care of their elder parents is immediate family members. However, extended family quickly dissipates as the weeks of care progress. Immediate family members have the responsibility to care for their own families as well as their parents. One cannot interrupt the regular schedule of a home for an extended time without dire consequences.

A second choice is to hire private duty caregivers. These usually come from friends or  media sources such as classified ads. Though there are many wonderful caregivers found through this method, families are placing themselves in a high risk situation.

If a private duty caregiver is ill or out of town, families are left without care for their senior. For every one caregiver hired outside a company that is wonderful there are five who will not be reliable.

Most insurance companies will not cover any injury to a private duty caregiver under the homeowners policy. Why? This is a workman’s compensation claim and most general homeowner polices do not provide coverage for “employees” of the homeowner. You are at serious risk to be sued to cover major medical expenses.

Backgrounds checks are costly and difficult to attain for the average individual. Most families will only attain a county background check and assume their search is complete. Full background searches through a national data base are necessary to protect your family and your senior from serious consequence.

The benefits of a caregiver company.  There is no question that it is more costly to attain the services of a company who provides caregivers. However, the benefits far outweigh the cost.

By hiring a licensed and bonded company you are hiring quality and responsibility. Many companies are not licensed, bonded, and insuranced even though the State of Tennessee requires these items. Companies who are licensed adhere to the strict standards set by the State and Federal guidelines and are accountable for their actions. Families who hire companies have a mediator in the event there should be any questionable actions of the company providing care.

Companies provide their own liability insurance as well as their own workman’s compensation to cover their employees. And quality companies bill the client, taking any financial responsibilities away from the caregiver and providing records for insurance and accounting.

You will not be left without care. Companies provide quality caregivers and should one become ill or be unable to work, they are able to replace that caregiver quickly and keep your family on track.

By hiring a quality company such as Comfort Keepers, the needs of your loved one will be met with pride, love and compassion taking the fear away from the family and allowing exceptional care that is necessary to keep the aging parent comfortable and happy.