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Confessions of a Professional Caregiver

Posted by Jill Troman on Mar 14, 2014 10:36:00 AM

We thought it might be interesting to interview several of our seasoned In-Home Caregivers and get the "lowdown" on what it's really like to care for an elderly person or disabled adult at home.  What do they love about the job?  What are their gripes?  What do they really want clients and their families to know?

 Confessions of a Professional Caregiver

Here's what some of our professional caregivers had to say on some "hot topics"...

What do you enjoy most about In-Home Caregiving?

Caregivers were unanimous in their preference for caring for an individual in a home environment over an institutional setting.  All expressed satisfaction in cultivating a relationship with their client and his or her family.  "The job is simply more personal and rewarding".  Caregivers also appreciate the slower pace of homecare when compared with the sometimes frantic pace of hospitals or assisted living facilities where nursing assistants frequently assist numerous patients. Caregivers reported that they felt a higher level of satisfaction because they felt they played a key role in their client's quality of life.  

Is it uncomfortable when family members "pop in" to observe the caregiver caring for the client?

Most caregivers indicated that they understood that family members needed to observe care tasks so that they developed a level of confidence in the caregiver and her abilities.  One caregiver stated that she "encouraged client's family members to visit and observe.  Trust develops that way and family also can see how hard we work; it's just not easy to care for an elderly person."  

What is the most frustrating thing that family members do?

 "Forgetting to tell me about a change in medical condition or medications that might alter their loved one's behavior can definitely be frustrating".  Another caregiver raised a concern that sometimes family members stick their heads in the sand and refuse to take important actions or face difficult situations with elderly parent(s) because it's uncomfortable. Sometimes family members will hire a caregiver and then step completely out of the picture, leaving the professional caregiver without support.  

If a family member has a concern about the way a caregiver is taking care of a loved one, how should it be addressed?   

One caregiver shared this recommendation,  "It's terrible when a family is disatisfied with care. In most cases, it's just a communicationproblem.  Don't wait until things snowball and become unbearable."  Provide your caregiver with specific feedback and recommendations for improvement.  Commuincate directly but respectfully and recognize the things that he/she is doing right.  Be careful not to throw the "baby out with the bathwater" if there are enough positive qualities about the caregiver.   

How do caregivers really feel about being asked to do housekeeping tasks in addition to personal care duties? 

This is definitely a "touchy" topic!  Professional caregivers and certified nursing assistants all expect to assist with light housekeeping and sanitation since their elderly clients may not be able to handle these tasks effectively.  Routine cleaning of kitchen, bathroom and bedroom is considered part of the job.  The caregivers we interviewed expressed frustration when clients requested "deep cleaning" like scouring tubs or doing laundry for an entire household.  

Do caregivers like receiving detailed care instructions from family members or do they resent it?

"I don't like step by step instructions for completing normal tasks.  It comes across as micro-managing.  However, it's great when a family member provides a general schedule of activities and a brief summary of needs and preferences."  In general, caregivers appreciate some guidance and recommendations on how best to care for the client.  However, they appreciate the opportunity to complete tasks in their own way.  All agreed that it is essential to have a solid understanding of the client's expectations in order to avoid misunderstandings. 

What's one thing you really wish you could tell your clients?

"Remembering to say 'please' and 'thank you' is very important to me!".   Expressing gratitude definitely increases a caregiver's work satisfaction.  Obviously, a caregiver who feels appreciated and valued will want to stay working for their client.  

Another caregiver secretly wishes that she could share with her client's family just how hard she works.  "Sometimes I get the feeling that family members don't fully understand how emotionally and physically exhausting it can be to care for a dementia patient all day...it's satisfying for me but some days are really tough."  

 "I am not a housekeeper for the whole family."  One caregiver for an elderly woman felt taken advantage of when she was expected to clean up after messy kids and pets.  

 If you are a professional caregiver, we would love to hear your thoughts!  Feel free to share your comments with our blog audience below.    


 

 

 

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, senior care, live in care, caregivers, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care

Caring For A Parent While Keeping Sane!

Posted by Debby Franklin on Feb 17, 2014 4:10:00 PM

Caring for a loved one, Home Care Atlanta, Senior CareCaring for an aging parent can be challenging and some of the time can make us a feel like we are losing it!  It can be one of the most emotionally difficult experiences.  Not only are we juggling our own lives, but now due to the aging process the people who once took care of us need help in caring for themselves. 

When you start taking care of your parent, they give up the one thing they have always had in your relationship together, their authority.  A person who may have been irritable can become enraged; someone who is impatient can now be demanding and impossible to please.  In many instances the parent turns on the child that is trying their best to assist with their well being. 

The aging process can bring on forgetfulness, frustration, sadness and depression, personality changes, hallucinations, personal hygiene issues, hoarding, OCD and demands that all of the your time and attention be spent on them.  It’s no wonder we hear on a weekly basis “my mother is making me crazy!’

What are some things that you can do to cope on this caregiving journey?

  • Accept the fact that life has changed and changes are inevitable. 
  • Try not to take things personally.  Learn to recognize the cognitive dysfunction.
  • Many times our parents reserve their worst behavior for those they are closest to.  Consider getting your parent involved in senior activities or adult day care, depending on their physical capabilities.
  • Always seek professional help.  Therapy and medications can help with some of the aging symptoms and changes.  Your parent could also be having a side-effect of a current mediation or the dose may need to be modified.
  • Redirection is a good technique to divert from something that is occurring that is unpleasant or inappropriate.
  • Reminiscing is always a good mood enhancer.  Using long-term memory skills will most likely help your parent shift to a happier disposition.
  • When a parent becomes demanding for all of your time and attention this usually means they have become dependant on you for all of their physical and emotional needs.  This is when you have to take steps to take care of yourself!  Bring in outside help or contact the local Senior Services office in your area to find out what programs are available that can provide care assistance and companionship to your loved one.  Churches and other charitable organizations are also a good reference source. 

You hear this over and over so hear goes it one more time….don’t forget the “me” time!  Having time to rejuvenate is critical to your overall health.  Do all the things that bring you fun and pleasure and don’t feel guilty for the time spent away from caring for your parent.  Your life still needs to have you in it!

If you are finding it difficult to juggle it all - work, family, errands and other demands that often leave you over taxed.  Where do you turn when a loved ones needs are more than you can manage on your own?  What do you do when some of the care alternatives seem like a complication rather than a solution?  We understand, in fact, we have been there.

Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care, Easy Living Services. Offering flexible care plans designed to guarantee safety, comfort, companionship and personal care and attention to your loved one at home.

Finally, a real solution.  At last, peace of mind.  Call us at 770-442-8664.  

Atlanta Caregivers

Topics: taking care of a parent, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Live-In Caregiver

Caring For A Loved One With The Flu & Staying Healthy

Posted by Debby Franklin on Feb 6, 2014 3:32:00 PM

Caring for a loved one with the FluWhen taking care of a loved one with the flu, it is important to take precautions to keep yourself and other family members protected.  Follow these common sense steps to stay healthy!

Start by keeping the sick person away from other people as much as possible.  Create a sick room  to help reduce the spread of germs and keep the sick person in a room away from common areas of the house.  Clean the sick room daily with disinfectant products.  It is a good practice to keep disinfecting sprays or wipes on hand to keep surfaces clean.  Influenza can survive for several hours even days.  You can use a bleach solution by mixing 1/4 cup of bleach for every gallon of water.  Mix a new solution each time you clean.  Be sure to keep bathroom faucets, light switches and door knobs frequently cleaned.  Sheets and towels should be washed in "hot" water, and try to not place the dirty linens close to the body while transporting them to the laundry room.  Wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.  

Wash hands frequently with soap and water for a least 20 seconds and make certain that all family members participate in the hand washing ritual.

Designate only one adult to be the caregiver.  People at increased risk of severe illness from influenza should not be the caregiver.  If this is not possible, ware a face mask and gloves.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent gems from entering your body.  

Hold small children who are sick with their chin on your shoulder so that coughs are directed away from your face.  

Public health experts recommend staying six feet away from someone with the flu.  Any closer, and you are in prime range for inhaling the droplets that can make you sick as they expel into the air by coughs and sneezing.  Since that is not always possible that's why the other measures such as hand washing and disinfecting are so important.  

Practice healthy habits to help maintain your body's resistance to infection.  Eat a healthy diet.  Drink lots of water.  Continue to exercise.  Get plenty of sleep and rest.

Make sure the person you are caring for receives lots of fluids and rest.  Prevent dehydration by encouraging liquids at the first sign of the flu.  Give ice and easily digested foods and fluids that contain electrolytes.  

Seek medical attention if your loved one suffers from any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
  • Vomiting and unable to keep liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tear when they cry
  • Seizures
  • Less responsive than normal or confused

Remind your loved one to cough and sneeze into disposable tissue whenever possible.  Throw the sick person's tissues and other used disposable items in the trash and keep hand sanitizer nearby for those moments when they are unable to wash with soap.

Taking care of someone else may cause you to lose sight of your own health.  Remember to be mindful of your needs as well.

If you are finding it difficult to juggle it all - work, family, errands and other demands that often leave you over taxed.  Where do you turn when a loved ones needs are more than you can manage on your own?  What do you do when some of the care alternatives seem like a complication rather than a solution?  We understand, in fact, we have been there.

Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care, Easy Living Services. Offering flexible care plans designed to guarantee safety, comfort, companionship and personal care and attention to your loved one at home.

Finally, a real solution.  At last, peace of mind.  Call us at 770-442-8664.  

Topics: caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Atlanta Caregivers, flu

Caring for an "undeserving" parent

Posted by Jill Troman on Nov 29, 2013 4:06:00 PM

caring for an abusive parent "When you are young your father puts his coat on your back. There comes a time when you put your coat on his”.  Japenese proverb

There comes a time when most of us face the reality that a parent is declining and requires assistance.  As a society, we generally expect that adult children bear the resonsibility for caring for elderly parents or at least making arrrangements for outside care. For many, this responsibility is readily accepted and becomes a normal extension of a loving parent/child relationship.  For some, however, the choice is not simple. Maybe yours was a neglectful, self absorbed, distant or even abusive parent. What then?  Are you obligated to care for a parent that didn't care for you well?

The answer depends on the degree of relational dysfunction and the emotional health of the adult child.  For some, the scars and trauma of an abusive relationship run too deep, precluding their ability to effectively care for the parent.   For those who are able, caring for this parent may offer the reward of making peace and finding acceptance.   Another potential positive comes in breaking the cycle of abuse and allowing grandchildren to experience what it means to love another unconditionally.  

Making the Decision to Care

When an adult child from a dysfunctional family returns to care for a parent,  it’s critical for him to be prepared for old issues and emotions to return to the surface.  He may feel like a young child again, filled with the same confusion, fear, and anger he felt all those years ago.  The adult child caregiver will have to navigate complex family dynamics without resentment, while trying to muster up empathy for the failing parent.  A tall order, rightExperts offer the following tips for adult children in this situation:

*Seek counseling.  Consulting with a trained counselor, even if attempted years ago, can be helpful in this new phase of the relationship.  It can help some caregivers “take the edge off” the feelings of resentment and allow them to go about the business of caring for a parent.  

*Secure outside help.  If you do not feel able to play an active care role, consider hiring an In-Home Care Provider to assist you in identifying the type of care needed, selecting qualified caregivers and managing the care schedule.  Agency care is available on an hourly or 24 hr/Live-In basis depending on level of care required.  You will have peace of mind knowing that your family member is being cared for by a screened and credentialed caregiver under the supervision of agency personnel.  

*Appoint a Legal Guardian.  If you are finding that it is virtually impossible for you to assist your parent with his or her needs in any way then consider having a court appointed guardianship established.  The court transfers the responsibility for managing finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions to the guardian.   Guardianship is an option when your elderly parent does NOT have a power of attorney or advanced directive in place AND has been declared incompetent based on expert findings.  

*Look for the “silver lining”.   View this process as an opportunity rather than a hardship.  There is the possibility that some healing may take place as you work to make care arrangements for your parent.  This healing may open the door to forgiveness and an acceptance of your parent’s limitations and flaws.  It may enable you to reach their bedside in time to say goodbye and have peace after he or she passes on.

Need help caring for a family member?  Contact the care team at Easy Living Services.  We'll be there to help when you can't be with a trained, experienced caregiver.   Hourly rates $15.95 to $17.95 and Live-In Services from $175 per day.      Call us!    770-442-8664.

Source:  Agingcare.com Carol Bradley Bursack

 

Topics: Caregiver Information, taking care of a parent, caring for a loved one, Atlanta Home Care, Atlanta Caregivers

Cost Of In-Home Care Likely to Rise Due to Overtime Laws

Posted by Jill Troman on Oct 8, 2013 12:11:00 PM

New regulations requiring payment of overtime wages for homecare aides, while well intentioned, will likely have some unintended, negative consequences for elderly clients.

Senior Care Without a doubt, nursing assistants, charged with caring for elderly clients at home, work hard and shoulder heavy responsibilities.  Caregivers deserve to receive fair wages for the essential care they provide.  The issue at hand involves payment of overtime for caregivers working on a "Live-In" basis for seniors. The term "Live-In"  applies to caregivers who go to an elderly client's home and stay for a number of days at a time.  This arrangement greatly benefits many seniors who prefer the security of having someone with them at night for urgent needs. Seniors with dementia or impaired memory function typically need Live-In care to insure safety and prevent falls.   "Live-In" care is only offered to clients who sleep well through the night and typically do not require assistance during night time hours. Clients who have frequent needs during the night are required to have care billed on an hourly basis so that the caregiver can also be compensated appropriately.  If 24 hr care is provided on an hourly basis, several caregivers are required to cover the shifts; (2) 12 hour shifts per day. While technically, present in the client's home for at least 24 hours, A "Live-In" caregiver is able to sleep 8 hours at night and has some downtime in the evening hours.  These caregivers are paid a flat, daily rate for this service.  Historically, they  have been exempt from overtime pay due to the fact that they have rest time and are not actively working at all times.   

How will this change affect Elderly Clients?

Clients receiving In-Home Care services will definitely take a hit in their pocket books. The former companionship exemption was a significant factor in helping to keep senior home care affordable.  With overtime pay now required for hours in excess of 40, clients will pay significantly more or get used to having numerous caregivers rotating in and out of their homes.  For most seniors and their families, continuity of care is considered critical.   A continuous stream of different caregivers can be confusing for an elderly client and possibly elevate anxiety levels. Communication regarding a client's changing needs is more challenging when multiple caregivers are involved.  Faced with these negatives, many families may decide to hire their own, private caregivers to care for their seniors.  Private caregivers may not have the training and credentials of those retained through an agency.  Hiring home care workers under the table could expose some seniors to abuse, fraud or substandard care since supervision and agency oversight is lost.  What is a senior to do when a private caregiver gets sick or doesn't show up for work?  In all likelihood, the elderly client will be left to fend for himself unless family or friends are available to step in.  

Due to expense or hassle, many families may turn away from in-home care altogether and turn to assisted living or nursing care institutions instead.  Research data indicates that given a choice an overwhelming majority of seniors would prefer to remain at home with assistance. Loss of independence and control combined with less personal attention make institutional living less appealing to the senior population. 

What about the truly wonderful people who have been earning their incomes as Live-In caregivers through In-Home Care agencies?   Will they actually benefit from the new overtime provision?  Probably not.  The overall demand for Live-In assistance will likely decline sharply as costs increase significantly.  These caregivers will likely be forced into  "underground" or private hire situations to find assignments without the numerous protections offered by reputable agencies. 

Who will really benefit from removing the overtime exemption for home care workers?  Its unclear but quite possibly the only benefactor will turn out to be SEIU, the largest and fastest growing member of the AFL-CIO.  Politics as usual?  Let's hope not; the lives of seniors, the disabled and chronically ill will be impacted. 

 


Topics: elder care, In Home Care, senior care, Atlanta Home Care, Atlanta Caregivers, Around-the-clock caregiver, 24 Hour Caregiver