Dear Family Resource,
My mom needs help at home but she refuses to let us hire a caregiver. She says she does not need home care assistance and doesn’t want a stranger in her house. She wants me to come over daily but I work full time and have kids and a husband! I love my mom but I can’t be in two places at one time! Help!
Split in Two

Dear Split in Two,
I hear you − split in two, you’d be no use to anybody!  The first thing I want to know is what is going on with your mom right now? Has something changed recently? Are you seeing signs that tell you she needs help or that she cannot manage on her own? Is she getting proper nutrition; is she able to prepare or heat up meals? Is she having problems with her hygiene; wearing the same clothes over and over again and/or having some incontinence? Is she taking her medication as prescribed? Do you have concerns about her safety?  Does she leave the stove on or leave food out on the counter that should be refrigerated? Has she recently fallen? Is she constantly calling you?

If you see your mom in some or most of these questions, she may need home care or home health care assistance from you or an outside person. Are there specific times she needs more help than others? Many times the morning is a key time to provide care assistance to help with medication, personal hygiene, preparing breakfast. Dinner and bedtime can present similar challenges with meal preparation, taking medication, and getting ready for bed. If you are concerned with your mother’s safety because she has physically or cognitively declined, she may need more than just a few hours of help.

It is understandable that your mom does not want home care assistance. It can be uncomfortable to have a stranger in your home and your mom may reject the idea that she’s not capable of taking care of herself or her house. You might try asking your mom to give it a try − perhaps 2-3 times a week for just a couple of hours. A lot can get done in two hours including assistance with laundry and basic household chores, grocery shopping, and basic monitoring for health and safety issues. Your mom may respond to the idea that a helper a couple of times a week will free you up to do more enjoyable things together such as going out to lunch or catching a play or movie.

At this stage, it is important for your mother to remain in the driver’s seat, and as much as possible, participate in the decisions being made about herself and her home. It is a lot easier to set up home care assistance if you can get your mother on the same page as you!  I like to take this approach when meeting a potential client and family, and I want our potential client to know that her feelings, wishes, and participation are important. You might consider scheduling a time for the three of us to meet and have a conversation that will be directed at her. I’d let her know that this is a time for her to hear about options available to her − maybe not for now, but for the future, and I’d reassure her that I don’t want to take away her control or independence. While your mom is asking and answering questions, I would be learning about her and getting a feeling for her, her personality, and her needs. Should she become a home care client, this information will help us to match her with a caregiver who will be compatible. I’d love to meet your mom and I do hope you’ll give me a call.

~ Family Resource