Should you be concerned about your parent’s caregiver?
When your parent’s need more assistance than you can provide, it makes sense to hire a caregiver. Bringing in a professional to do some of the heavy lifting or personal care tasks takes the burden off of you and preserves your relationship with your aging parent.
Finding the right caregiver is the first step. Your parent deserves someone who will treat them with respect and kindness, while doing the caregiving tasks that are required. Unfortunately, sometimes, even with all the vetting and interviewing, the caregiver you hire may not be a good fit for your family.
Recognizing the warning signs that your caregiver isn’t right for your family is important to your parent’s well-being. There are several signs to look for. Once you’ve determined someone isn’t a good fit, you’ll need to decide if the problem is fixable, or if you need to bring in someone new.
Sometimes, personalities just don’t click for whatever reason. If your parent is uncomfortable around his/her caregiver, it may be a sign that they don’t mesh, or that something else is going on. Here are some behaviors that may indicate your parent is not comfortable with their caregiver.
- Things Aren’t Getting Done: Did you hire a caregiver to do specific tasks and notice they’re not getting done? It could be a sign that your parent is not comfortable asking the caregiver for help. You can assist with this by creating a task list so there isn’t a question about responsibilities. If you’ve created a task list and things still aren’t getting done, you may need to address it once more with the caregiver. Remember, they work for you and you should have discussed responsibilities beforehand. If they aren’t doing their job, you’ll need to decide if you want to continue employing them.
- Your Parent is Hiding: If your parent is hiding in his/her room instead of spending time around the house, they may feel uncomfortable around their caregiver. It could be that they’re not used to having someone in their house and just don’t know what to do, but it may be that they don’t care for their caregiver and want to keep their distance. Talk to them to find out the cause and if it is just about discomfort, have them gradually spend more time in common areas with the caregiver and discuss with the caregiver how they can make your parent feel more comfortable.
- Constant Complaining: This is tough. Most people don’t want someone in their home, doing things that they used to do for themselves. You’ll have to gauge if the complaints are related to their frustration over having a caregiver or due to poor treatment by the caregiver. Are they complaining that the caregiver doesn’t prepare food they like, or are they complaining because their caregiver talks down to them or doesn’t interact with them at all. The former is a common complaint, the latter is a sign that the caregiver may not be treating your parent as respectfully as you’d like.
Signs of a Bigger Caregiver Issue
While the issues above can be frustrating, they are usually fixable with a conversation or better direction. Sometimes, you have to look for non-verbal cues for bigger issues.
- New Injuries: If your parent’s home is fall safe and you’ve made sure there aren’t any medical reasons for increased falls, you may need to explore the possibility that new injuries are a result of their caregiver not keeping a close enough eye on them or worse. I had a client who had balance issues, so we were used to bruising and minor injuries. However, when she started getting what looked like finger bruises on her arms, we alerted her family. Sure, the caregiver may have grabbed her quickly to prevent a fall, but they became frequent, which led us to believe that perhaps the caregiver was too rough when assisting the client. Trust your gut. If the injuries aren’t easily explained, it could be a sign of elder abuse.
- Limited Access to Your Parent: Are you having a tough time reaching your parent? If you are long-distance, is your parent always unavailable when you call or is the caregiver always in the room when you talk on the phone or visit? If you are concerned that you aren’t able to communicate with your parent, you will need to find out why. Is your parent upset with you over bringing in a caregiver, or is the caregiver trying to keep you apart so that you aren’t aware of what goes on when you aren’t around.
- The Relationship Is Too Close: I had a client who loaned money and her car to her caregiver of five weeks. That is taking the relationship too far. This is a professional relationship. Of course, over time, a caregiver and your parent may care for each other. After all, they spend a lot of time together. However, if they are getting too close too fast, you should keep an eye out. You don’t want your parent to be taken advantage of emotionally or financially.
Caregivers provide a wonderful service. As a whole, they are kind, caring people who want to help others. Unfortunately, there are occasionally bad apples. Remaining close to your parent and knowing what to watch for can help you catch inappropriate behavior before it gets too far.