TELLING Mom that she needs a caregiver has been a nightmare
Q: Dear Nurse Posvar, about six months ago my sister and I felt it was time we spoke to mum about having a caregiver to make sure she is eating and changing her clothes. Our mum was so upset with this and didn’t talk to us for days. We notice things are getting worse. She really needs the help but she will not have the it. We wanted to ask you if there is an easier approach.
A: Thank you for the question. It is very common, actually. There are different approaches as there are a few reasons why a person doesn’t want help. This may include losing their independence or they do not want to be a burden to anyone. You never want to tell them that this person is their caregiver. With that in mind you might want to start the subject with: “ Mum, you have worked so hard all these years. You have reached a time and deserve a personal assistant to make life easier for you. You could hire an executive assistant. I can even help you to interview.” This could help with the thought of re-entering the workforce if she worked outside the home.
It is important to include your mum in the interviewing process. There should be a good connection between the selected person and your mum as this helps the acceptance of someone coming to her home. She will also have some sense of control when she is involved with the hiring as it is a challenge to force an older adult to accept someone coming into their home. When you have narrowed down to two or three persons, have a second interview with just you and sister to build a relationship, communication and history about your mum for long term care. Make sure the person has experience with dementia care so that the approach is a pleasant experience for your mum.
If she is very adamant about not having help, really look into the emotion about it. Every person’s situation is unique. I have met people that the only way to get help is to be a friend. And only a family or friend can introduce the person as a friend and just visiting. The interviewing process would be different as it will involve the interviewee agreeing to a two week trial of getting connected with your mum while you are there. Once your mum thinks of the caregiver as a friend, then she can make a visit without the family and be a companion for a couple of weeks. This will give the caregiver a gradual opportunity to learn to do things with your mum instead for your mum. Doing things together with your mum will feel like partnership and not like someone is coming in to take over. No one likes to feel like they have no choices in life. She may not have safety awareness but she will have the same feelings as you and I. Her feelings are your best tools to understand and communicate with her. She doesn’t want a caregiver in her home? Ask yourself who would she accept? Create that person.
Q: Dear Ms. Posvar, I have noticed my sister having trouble with the bills. Her children are in Canada. Should I try to help her? Her children do not see any problem. I don’t want her to have any problems with bills. How can I help her?
A: This can be a challenge if the children are not noticing any changes in her. If you are not completely sure, check with her electric bill or water bill to see if late or missed. Go to the grocery store with her and discretely watch how she manages paying. You may need to do this over time. Ask to do taxes together. If you find errors do not make accusations that she does not know what she is doing or managing wrong. Say things like the bank must have made an error with this charge or electric company thought you were late. She may admit she has been struggling to keep up. With a little talking and reassuring you can offer small steps to help like organizing, with a calendar, having the cheques ready for each month or reminder notes that this or that is due for payment. The important thing to remember is to not embarrass her.
Family that live at a distance sometimes do not see the changes in their loved one until the decline is severe. Let them know what you have found and how you are helping your sister.
Quote ~ Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine —– Lord Byron
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