Even the best caregiver needs a break sometimes – especially when it’s a live-in family member. In fact, providing frequent and consistent breaks causes the caregiver to come back refreshed, recharged, and more attentive than ever. The problem arises when your older adult absolutely refuses the idea of an in-home caregiver replacing even a few hours of a family member’s time. This will quickly lead to burnout.
Many seniors aren’t ready to admit that they need extra help, even when it’s quite obvious to others that they’re struggling to perform some daily activities. If you or another family member approaches them with the suggestion of bringing in some outside help, they will often immediately start arguing or completely shut down the conversation. They may bring up issues such as saying that in-home care is an invasion to their privacy, a waste of valuable money, or even an insult to their abilities or intelligence.
Regardless, this sensitive topic must be addressed. Most of the time, full-time caregiving is too much for family members to handle alone. It simply becomes too much. Fortunately, the Family Caregiver Alliance recently offered several ways to overcome this challenge and make the transition to in-home care more acceptable, even if the senior initially opposes the idea:
- Start slowly and allow time for the senior to adjust to both the idea and the reality. The older person may have an inaccurate portrayal of what in-home care really looks and feels like. Start by having an outside caregiver come for only a few hours a week, and have him or her only focus on tasks that aren’t personal. As your older individual gets used to the new caregiver, you can gradually add more hours and responsibilities.
- Preserve the person’s dignity by presenting in-home care as something that’s supposed to help you, not them. Sometimes it’s all about the presentation. If you explain that you’re not able to do everything you need to around the house anymore, the senior will be more receptive to outside help because they aren’t feeling like they’re losing independence or that you doubt their capability.
- Bring the doctor into the equation. Often older adults highly respect their doctors; in fact, they are often more willing to abide by their doctor’s opinions than their own family’s. If you can convince the person that their doctor prescribed in-home care, that could go a long way towards their acceptance of the idea. If they don’t believe you, perhaps you could ask the doctor’s office for an official “pretend” prescription on their stationery.
- Equate in-home care with housekeeping help. This is another way of making it seem as if you need help with chores, rather than implying that they need assistance with daily living activities.
- Downplay the cost of in-home care. If your family member isn’t the one paying for the caregiver, you can always pretend that it’s a free service offered by the town or another organization. There’s a good chance they’ll be more open to taking advantage of a free service.
- Introduce the caregiver as a friend. If you explain that this friend of yours is lonely and needs companionship, the senior is more likely to open up and trust the person. This also eases the sting of them feeling as if their family doubts their abilities.
- Make it seem like a temporary arrangement. Trying something out short-term is usually always better received than a permanent change. Down the road, once the caregiver has become part of their regular routine and they’ve established a bond, it will likely be easier to extend the arrangement into a longer-term situation.
There’s no question that family caregivers frequently suffer from burnout and need additional support. By framing the idea of in-home care as something that helps you out rather than focusing on the needs of your loved one, you’ll have a much better chance of getting approval and being able to bring in some outside help.