If you pay attention to one feature of the older tree, its bark, you may not focus on caring for the full range of needs for the forest, the light, water, heat, and other nutrients. So often, “we do not see the forest for the trees.”
Realizing that a loved one needs homecare assistance can be so difficult.
You knew this day would come, and now that it has, you are faced with balancing the practical and emotional needs of your family. Non-medical homecare assistance provides care for the elderly in their own homes. Your relative receives practical support for all these non-medical needs, from eating to bathing to assuring the prescribed medications are taken. We also must provide companionship. When the whole person is cared for, then you are more able to have peace of mind.
With so many homecare agencies out there, how do you choose one that will best match your family’s needs? Reflect calmly on the things that are really the most important to you. Start by thinking of it as a relationship. Your agency caregiver will become an important part of your loved one’s life. The caregiver must not only fit in with your family member’s personal household values, but be able to provide areas of care that truly affect the complete health of your loved one.
Which values are welcomed in your parent’s home? Which skills will support your parent’s dignity and quality of life? Which areas of care are needful for true balanced health that can assist them to live with quality as long as they are able? Is your focus to close to one or another specific need to care for the whole person?
The Caring Questions
Here are three key things to look for in that perfect match.
1. Are caregivers trained to work with the whole person?
Does the agency have a holistic care plan? Does their philosophy address the client as a whole person: mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical? You see your loved one as the whole person she or he is with interests, favorite activities, likes and dislikes. Exactly how will this caregiver agency provide for these needs?
You know what things light up your loved one’s face. Perhaps it has been a while since you saw that spark in the eye. Does the agency take the time to learn about your loved one as a whole person? have they asked about the elderly person’s interests?
Sometimes the answers to today’s enjoyment lie in the past. The agency should take the time to talk with you in depth about your relative’s past interests, likes and dislikes. The discussion should feel professional but relaxed and totally focused on your family.
You can’t be there every day, but you can hire a caregiver who will take the time to find out about your loved one’s interests and help make them part of daily life. For example, if your loved one has always enjoyed gardening but can’t be as active outdoors, the caregiver might bring some of the outdoors inside in the form of a window or patio garden that your family member can tend.
2. How are quality standards enforced?
Caregivers fill out a daily checklist that covers all aspects of client care. Care isn’t just a matter of noting the client’s physical health. How was your loved one’s mood? Did she enjoy a new activity today? Did he voice a concern about something? Look at their care checklist for the elderly.
Will there be communication between you and the caregiver on the checklist items? Can you ask about things or make notes to share with the caregiver, and visa versa. The communication should be clear and united between you and your family support caregiver.
3. Will the caregiver be a companion?
How involved do the agency caregivers become? Are they companions for your loved one or just “sitters”? Like all of us, your loved one needs to feel involved with life. Simple tasks or activities that he or she enjoys can mean the difference between a day where it feels good to be alive and one that feels empty. Your caregiver should be able to help your parent with activities such as baking, light gardening or creating a photo album.
To what extent is this type of involvement supported by the agency? Do they encourage it? What special ways can you find to interact with the caregiver to emphasize these things and support this aspect of the care?
Going Beyond the Surface to Balanced Care
It is easy to be clinical in focus where care for elderly parents is concerned, to list the medications, to share the specific physician’s orders, so care is taken in movement or bathing routines. Of course you want to ask all the necessary questions about these things. But often we do not expand our thinking to explore all the aspects of good health and full-person care.
Be sure to take the time and explore all the dimensions of care. Be sure your agency focuses effort and attention to this and initiates conversation about it with you.
Be sure to see the forest as well as the trees: the proverbial saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” is the key concept here. If you’re focusing on details too much and can’t see the “big picture,” you could miss the overall health of your loved one in your plan. Details are important, but true balanced care is a full forest of potential.
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