At some point, your aging parents will need help that you cannot provide. Whether it’s a full-time person to live with them that provides meals and administers medication, or someone that stops in daily to provide basic caregiving, a senior caregiver plays an important role helping mom or dad stay healthy and as independent as possible in their own home.
Sometimes, your aging parent becomes difficult to manage, either in demeanor and attitude, or due to medical conditions. For example, if your parents get hyper-critical and sharp words become common, this can be hurtful to your caregiver. Stubborn behavior and resistance to care is also a common issue that senior caregivers will run into, and this also poses a challenge. So, how can you support your parent’s caregiver and create a caregiving team?
Alternatively, difficulty can come simply by the decline of your parent’s condition. Maybe Alzheimer’s is progressing, breathing is becoming more difficult, and anxiety is becoming the norm for your parents. Good caregivers truly care for their patients and become emotionally attached to them. Seeing physical decline can be particularly hard for a caregiver that is attached to your loved one.
It is important to remember that your caregiver is an important member of your family's caregiving team, and it is important to you show your understanding and support. Here are some ways to express your gratitude and support for her:
- Safety: When it comes to senior safety, sometimes just basic changes can make all the difference. Take the time to look around your parent’s living area and consider what potential hazards exist. Ladders, sharp objects, or other tools that could pose a problem should be removed or hidden. Getting rid of these things shows your caregiver that you are trying to make things as easy and safe as possible for her. Involve the caregiver in the process - she often has valuable insights.
- Presence: Even though your caregiver is paid to be with your parents and assist them, your presence also matters greatly. Your parents appreciate your companionship, and their caregiver does too. Never underestimate the power of family presence.
- Communication: Many senior caregivers text or speak regularly with their client's adult children. Keeping these lines of communication open offers your parent's caregiver a safe place to bounce ideas around, or simply to vent. This teamwork is key to providing your parent the best care, and creates a collaborative environment where your caregiver can thrive.
- Emotionally: Words of appreciation go a long way. Simply thank her for a job well done and express that you understand that some days are more difficult than others. Bringing her an unexpected gift can also show your gratitude. Consider including her as a guest in "family" celebrations such as your parent's birthday dinner. Encourage self care - perhaps a gift of a massage or a specialty restaurant gift card.
Your senior caregiver works hard to provide the attentive care that your parents need. Get to know the caregiver’s personality, involve them and listen to them, understand you are a team, and make the extra effort to support the person who supports your parent.