Introducing a professional caregiver into your home can provide a huge relief to your family, for some families however it can be an added stress if the person needing the care is refusing help.
Spouses, Children and sometimes grandchildren are torn between honoring their relative’s wishes, and feeling overwhelmed taking on the care giving task themselves.
Understanding that bringing a stranger into your loved one’s home to help manage their most intimate and private care needs will be a big transition in their life, and therefore must be approached with sensitivity, respect, and most importantly, your patience.
You want to make sure that the connection is meaningful and will last over time; whether this is your first or second attempt, consider that each person is unique and will require a tailored approach that will help them adapt to this new change. Here are a few things to consider when introducing a caregiver:
#1 Start small
Begin with a short visit once per week, or as a trial, and increase the length and frequency when they are ready. If you introduce care for too long upfront, you risk your loved one becoming overwhelmed, and even more resistant than before.
#2 Know the topics you should avoid
It is important for the Caregiver to have a clear understanding of your loved one’s avoidable topics. This could be politics, names of family members, religion; topics or words that could potentially trigger a negative reaction and cause anxiety.
#3 Consider their personality type
If your loved one is introverted, the caregiver can shift their focus from discussion onto a task that is meaningful to them. Discussion can then come naturally throughout the project, and the task can provide a comfortable buffer if they feel uncomfortable. For someone who is more extroverted, have the caregiver arrive with a coffee and newspaper which will help establish their rapport as friendly, and supportive.
Their home must remain a place where they feel safe and comfortable. By understanding their personality type, you can gear your approach to their needs, and find the right caregiver that will honor those needs and maximize their interaction with them.
#4 Provide choice
Losing one’s independence and requiring a caregiver can feel like a major life event. You can re-empower your loved one by providing as much opportunity for decision making as possible. Be patient, offering up choice in any context may lessen their sense of losing control. This is a significant, yet overlooked strategy that can have a big impact on someone’s quality of life.
#5 Take a different approach
Your loved one might already have preconceived notions of a “caregiver” and they don’t feel their needs align with what is traditionally offered by this type of service. A professional caregiver is tasked with many duties around the home, focus on the task that your loved one would be comfortable with someone taking over. If they have had a housekeeper in the past, introduce the caregiver as a housekeeper. The caregiver will focus primarily on housekeeping duties, and as trust is built they can offer a cup of tea and chat during a break. Over time, the caregiver will slowly introduce more assistance, going at the pace which the individual is most comfortable with.
Provide moments throughout your loved one’s day for them to express themselves, whether it be through art, movement, or discussion. Opening up opportunity for them to express their thoughts and feelings may lessen their anxiety, and give you insight into their needs.
Providing validation when your loved one expresses concerns will help ease their anxiety. Individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can have a heightened sensitivity to non-verbal language, especially if they have a speech limitation. They will sense when you are stressed, frustrated and annoyed. Try not to pass off their concerns, respond to their fears with empathy, and ask questions about why they may feel that way. This will help them conclude their thought, so they can naturally move on to another topic.
Eventually as trust builds between the caregiver and your loved one, you will have more flexibility to plan a schedule that will give you peace of mind that all their needs are met. In the first few visits be realistic with your expectations and celebrate each small win along the way. Be patient, trust is built over time.
There are additional strategies that we can work on together to help your loved one cope with accepting help. Give me a call at (226) 646-7281 x 1 for more information.
- Lorien Bellamy