I Get By (Better) with a Little Help from My Friends

affordable home care companies in home care Minneapolis at home caregivers eldercare at home in Minnesota elderly home care service private pay home care services for seniorsMost of us pride ourselves on self-sufficiency.  And, it seems, those elderly folks living alone in their own homes can be very adamant about wanting to remain self-sufficient, even when it’s obvious to others that they need some help.  Because of this, as a home care social worker whose job it is to arrange in-home help for seniors, it can sometimes be quite a challenge to get to the point with seniors where they feel comfortable enough to at least try having help.  It’s not always an easy job for their children either.

Sometimes there is a misconception that the helper will be coming into the home to “take over.”  It’s important the senior know that he or she remains in charge of what the helper will and won’t do; what the senior wants done and how they want it done is up to them.  They can still be self-sufficient while receiving help.  In fact, it’s important that seniors keep doing what they can for themselves for a couple of reasons:  to maintain a sense of purpose and to keep as active as possible to maintain strength and mobility.  Let Mom or Dad know that you understand this.

When sharing your concerns with Mom or Dad about their need for help, it’s important to engage them in a discussion and highlight how and why help might be needed.  I find that the homemaking tasks most difficult for many of the seniors I see are changing linens and making the bed, vacuuming the floors, and cleaning out the refrigerator, especially the bottom shelf.  When we can discuss these tasks, it makes sense to the elder person to have someone help with them in order to minimize the risk of an accident or a fall.  Making the bed often requires seniors to physically overextend themselves, which causes loss of balance.   Vacuum cleaners are just too heavy for a frail elder person to push without becoming short of breath or exerting so much energy that they have to rest the remainder of the day.  Also, stooping or bending down isn’t usually an option because they are not able to get back up by themselves.

If you are having a discussion with elderly family members about accepting assistance, it would be good to first discuss the homemaking tasks that need to be completed.  After that, help them to determine which tasks it makes sense to keep performing and which ones they should turn over to someone else, whether that be to family, friends, or professionals.

If you end up needing to find outside help through an agency, it is important that the agency includes the senior’s input when writing a care plan.  Seniors are relieved to know that having in-home service is not a black and white matter. There are lots of gray areas to discuss and on which to compromise.  Being included in the process allows Mom and Dad to feel respected.  It will also feel like they are maintaining some control in their lives.

Despite their initial reluctance, once services are started, our clients are relieved that someone else can perform the more difficult tasks, while they continue doing those little jobs they enjoy and are capable of doing.  Having someone help also frees affordable home care services for seniors assisted home care companies companion home care in Minnesota eldercare at home help for the elderly home assistanceup time for them to spend on more meaningful activities they enjoy, such as handwork, playing cards, or visiting others.  Family members are often relieved as well because they can come to visit Mom or Dad and actually sit down and converse rather than having to be the housekeepers.

If your parents are balking at the idea of giving up some cleanings tasks, rest assured that ninety-nine percent of the time, our clients end up telling me they wish they had started services earlier.  Not only do they feel good about the work that is getting done, but they enjoy the company of the caregiver.  It’ll be the same for your parents.

Julie Ellingson, LSW

 

 

January 27, 2012

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