Thursday, June 13, 2013

Must Have Tips for Caregivers and Finding them too.

My Grandma Rose was an amazing woman. She always had heart problems. She had her first bypass surgery in 1979, and didn’t have another one for sixteen years. You are only supposed to go ten. She was very independent and strong. My grandpa passed away in 1993 and she lived alone for seven years.  She always had visitors, especially me.  We were best friends. I would go to visit her almost every other weekend, even when I was older.  We always had a great time.  I would go everywhere with her, even when she was an honorary pall bearer at a funeral for a fellow Catholic Daughter. Eventually she had Alzheimer’s disease, and could no longer live without someone around.  I moved in with her for a while to make sure she took her medicine, ate, and that she didn’t wander off. My aunt lived close by too, in case she needed anything.  It was very hard for everyone involved. It was hard because you have to watch someone you love deteriorate mentally.  We had become her caregivers. Genworth has a great article about how the caregiver’s lives are rerouted and all the changes you have to make.CNN reports a growing trend of people caring for aging parents or in this case, grandparents. I know that as one of the main caregivers, I wasn’t able to work outside of the home and I had to spend less time with friends. At the beginning I even moved away from everyone to be there for her.I knew that it was the most important thing for me to do at the time.

She was in an assisted living place for a while; we had some concerns about other residents being rough with my grandma. We took her out of there. We heard on the news a woman in her unit was able to escape and froze to death in their courtyard.  This was after she moved in with us. We continued to take care of her; I would make sure she had whatever she needed while my mom was at work. It was a full time job. I didn’t mind because this was my best friend and she took care of me when I was little. We kept her with us as long as we could until her health started to deteriorate, and she needed to be in a nursing home. No one in our family had medical training, and was such a hard decision. We visited her and took her out all the time; she was only fifteen minutes away from us.  At this point it was extremely hard; we would bring her over for holidays and she wouldn’t know who we were or where she was.  In 2005, she had congestive heart failure and just was her time to go.  We all received a gift the last few days, she was able to remember everyone and tell them things only she would know to say.  I would do it all over again if I could just see her and give her a million hugs. I think about her every single day.

Being a caregiver is hard work but it is worth it.  My family took care of my grandma for years. It was definitely a group effort.  You really need a great support system.  I am thankful that everyone was there and could help in some way.  Sometimes, family care isn’t an option, it is very important to find someone qualified to take care of your loved one.  It is tough to know what to look for. There are tools and articles from companies like Genworth that can help you find out more information.  I would recommend researching the caregiver or the facility.  Make sure they are licensed. I know that you can usually find health department records and see if they have had any violations. If they aren’t online, you can call the health department and ask them as the records are public. Look for reviews of the facility. Use search engines and learn as much as you can about the caregiver or facility. If you are using an in home caregiver, have them do a criminal background check and drug tests.  Many states have online court records, if they are available, search court records.  Again it is public records.  By searching court records you get things that may not be criminal but could raise a red flag. I know I wouldn’t want someone who has been sued a lot to be responsible for my loved one.  

Thankfully Genworth has a tool that can help you find caregivers in your area, so you can avoid Craigslist to find a caregiver.

Stay away from places like Craigslist when looking.  I am leery about a total stranger taking care of a family member that answers an online advertisement. Who knows if they know what they are doing or properly trained? I would try and find an agency that has well trained, professional workers that are really passionate about taking care of people.  I hope these tips help you if you ever need a caregiver for a loved one.

This post was inspired by Genworth and Brandfluential. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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