Monday, February 12, 2018

When A Caregiver Needs A Caregiver

It was 6:30AM on a Saturday morning when, “Your motherʼs light is on - she must be up!” Loriʼs husband was already on his way to her room. Lori was half asleep when she realized her mother who had dementia and was a fall risk, may have taken a fall. So, acting like “Wonder woman,” Lori flew down the dimly lit stairs missing the last three steps. As Loriʼs left foot hit the landing with all of her body weight on one leg she heard 2 loud “snaps,” and was immediately in agonizing pain unable to move. After an ambulance ride and 3 hours in the E.R. it was confirmed that Lori fractured her fibula and according to her orthopedist, because of the severity of injury - Lori would not be able to walk for 9-12 weeks.

Loriʼs first thought on the way home from the hospital was, “Who is going to take care of mom?” (Luckily for Lori, a caregiver had already been hired by Loriʼs husband from an agency and someone was already at the house taking care of Loriʼs mom. )

Does every family caregiver have a plan in place for fractures? Falls? Accidents? Unexpected Illness? Anything is game, right? And many of us are operating on limited budgets. Many family caregivers, have given up full-time incomes to care for their loved ones. 

So what happens when we canʼt serve as loving care-partners
to our full capacity? Who do we call? What do we do? Who will know our routines in caring for our loved ones in our homes? And most importantly, how will these changes affect the peace, harmony, and health of our loved one? (They are the ones who will be most directly affected by such a change, right?)

It was the late-former First Lady, Abigail Adams who once said, “Great necessities call out great virtues.” And this was very true for Lori and her family. Most people would consider rehabilitation centers and nursing homes for a temporary fix until Lori, the caregiver was fully healed. However, the thought of uprooting her mother from her familiar routine and nurturing environment had Lori fearing the worst. ( Countless research papers and studies today have proven that people with dementia who experience hospital or institutional stays can regress in mentation and be susceptible to infections which can have serious health implications.) Lori did not want her mother to suffer because of her own injury, so she and her family decided to reach out to the community and the results were incredible. The bottom line is that most people are good (very, very good indeed), and at the core of humanity is a heartfelt desire to be of service in a giving way to someone in need. 

 Lori and her husband used social platforms to announce their unique situation needing a caregiver for a dementia caregiver to their community. They also reached out to churches that both Lori and her family were active in. Soon, before they knew it, a stream of people were ready to help with dog walking, delivered meals, bedside visitors, caregivers, drivers, etc. An entire network was used from an agency with paid, scheduled caregivers who would help Loriʼs mother with her personal needs, house cleaning, meal prep, shopping, etc. And there were also many volunteers from the community. The importance of reaching out to the community was two-fold. 1) It helped to minimize expenses, 2) The volunteers were happy and enthusiastic bringing uplifting energy into the home environment. This influx of positive energy was VERY healing to both Lori and her mother, and a priceless contribution to their health.

Keeping Loriʼs mother in the house while Lori healed was the best solution that Lori and her husband could have made. It was not only a positive choice for Lori's mother, but also for Lori. There was much more social interaction. Loriʼs mother thrived with this activity, which under normal circumstances with her lack of mobility-she would have only had minimal access to.

Using individual, independent caregivers rather than the caregivers from the agencies worked out well for Lori and her family. Why? Motivation. The caregivers from one particular agency would complain about the agency taking most of their money and tended to do less work and more complaining about personal problems. They appeared to lack energy, (one caregiver would have arguments with bill collectors and ex-boyfriends in front of Lori and her mother on her cellphone.) Caregivers from the agency that Lori used (not all of them, but some of them) would have a tendency to show up late (30 mins. or more.) That can be a real problem if you have to go somewhere and are counting on them to show up on time. Another agency caregiver overslept one morning and showed up an hour late arriving at the front door clutching a giant bag of junkfood from McDonalds wearing slippers and cotton striped pajamas! In other words, not every caregiver sent from an agency is guaranteed to project a professional demeanor. And that's putting it lightly! 

Whereas, the independent caregivers (who did not work for this particular agency) showed up on time, always calling to alert us if they were going to be late. And they were fully clothed, I promise you.  No pajamas. (And they didn't smell like french fries, either!) They went the extra mile with cleaning, vacuuming and meal prep without being given any instructions, and never talked on the phone. They interacted fully with Lori's mother and seemed happy. Why? They were paid more than there counterparts and didn't have to answer to both the client and the agency. 

Also, regarding agencies- it is very important when using agencies to read the fineprint. Charges can double very easily because of ala cart pricing measures. (There's nothing worse than having to pay 1,000 more per month on an invoice when you thought the bill would be much less!) The going rate is about $15-$20/hr. However, depending on how you schedule your agency workers, the hourly rate can go up to $28/hr and this can happen without them telling you of the change. When Lori confronted the agency she used about the rate change they said, "Didn't you read the fineprint?" There can also be overcharges in the invoice which happened twice to Lori for hours that never happened. So, be sure to NEVER agree to drafts from your bank accounts. Pay them AFTER you see the invoice charges and that they match the hours worked. Lori kept a "sign in," and "sign out" sheet for workers that they would initial at the beginning and end of a shift.  

When working with independent contractors there is an agreed upon fee that doesn't change. It is important though to make sure that anyone coming into your home to work is bonded and insured whether working for an agency as a caregiver, or working independently.The best way to find independent caregivers is through word of mouth. A good reputation travels fast and there are some amazing people out there!!
Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA, Naomi Feil, MSW,, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

1 comment:

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