How To Overcome The Fear Of Hiring A Caregiver
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that almost 3.5 million people work as home health aides in the United States. As our population ages, the demand for caregivers will drive employment. By 2029, BLS expects that number to be 4.6 million workers. But despite the industry's growth, a different issue keeps those needing care from getting the help they desperately require. Hiring a caregiver is fraught with emotions. Fear, shame, and pride can hold us back from requesting assistance. Unfortunately, most caregivers are hired too late or in an emergency.
Take The First Step
At what point does feeling unclean overpower the shame of needing help to shower? When does the need to eat regular meals prompt someone to ask for help grocery shopping and preparing meals? How dirty must a home get before the embarrassment of the mess no longer outweighs asking for help with housekeeping? Usually too long. On average, the typical request for help comes 6-12 months too late. So if you notice your neighbor, parent, or spouse struggling with activities of daily living, don't wait to have the conversation. You might meet resistance, but remind him or her that talking to a caregiver does not mean hiring a caregiver. Just get the information so that you know who to call when you are ready.
When You're Ready
Getting assistance in the comfort of your own home allows you to maintain your independence longer. But, before you agree to at-home care, consider all the factors involved before hiring a home health aide.
Let's face it, bringing a stranger into your home is a significant change. So, to help with a smooth transition and prevent problems from occurring down the road, here are a few steps to ensure you feel comfortable with all aspects of this new arrangement.
The Initial Evaluation
Start by meeting with the case manager from the home health care agency when they come to your home for an assessment of services needed. At the initial evaluation, ask questions to understand what type of care is available and for how many hours a day or week. If you have never hired a caregiver before and are unsure if you want help, start with one day. See how it goes, then add additional days as recommended.
Meet the Home Health Aide
In addition to scheduling physical and medical needs, the agency will assign a caregiver based on compatible personalities and shared interests. That is why having a family member attend the home health aide's first visit is helpful. And ask that family member to check in with you after the aide leaves to see if you are comfortable with the agency's match. Your family member will be more in tune with whatever objections you may have and communicate that to the agency so they can select another candidate. Agencies are aware of this potential problem and usually will provide a suitable replacement.
Establish a Routine
Setting up a schedule for routine care can help normalize the care. For example, your calendar may look like this: On Monday and Thursday at 9:00 a.m., a home health aide comes to help with bathing, dressing, grocery shopping, and light housekeeping; a visiting nurse arrives at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays to check vital signs, medication, and to address any other health concerns; and a physical therapist comes on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. to establish an exercise program.
Occasionally, agencies send a substitute aide if the regular caregiver is sick, or they may assign a new caregiver to the case for other reasons. Find out what contingency plans the agency has in place under these circumstances. Confirm notification procedures ahead of time before an unfamiliar person unexpectedly knocks on your door. Sometimes, scheduling mishaps occur. For example, an aide may not show up at the appointed hour, and there is no communication. To avoid causing unnecessary stress, you can prepare for this possibility by discussing it in advance and creating a backup plan with the agency. Many people form special bonds with their aides over time and greatly benefit from social companionship. The success of a home health care plan will depend to a large extent on your comfort level.
The Bottom Line
While negative emotions can hold you back, don't wait until an emergency before getting a caregiver. Asking for help is hard, but spending some time finding the best home health aide will help ensure quality care and comfort for you or your loved one. If you still have questions, check out the upcoming webinar, In-Home Health Care Options on Wednesday, September 28 at 12:00 PM.