Dear Concerned Granddaughter,
It is often difficult to know when a person is transitioning from being fairly independent to requiring assistance with daily activities. Some questions to keep in mind while deciding if your grandmother needs additional help are:
Home care workers can cook for your grandmother and perform other household duties such as laundry and cleaning. You can start with 1 or 2 days of service each week and gradually increase the amount of service as necessary. Introducing a home care worker to your grandmother may take some time, as she may still consider herself to be quite independent. In cases like this it may be appropriate to tell a small un-truth such as introducing the home care worker as a family friend. It is also a good idea to have the worker give your grandmother a gift (which you provide) as a way of ingratiating herself. For example, if your grandmother enjoys gardening, having the worker give her a book about flowers may help ease the transition. Having a good relationship with the home care worker is one key to ensuring your grandmother remains safe in the community. The worker should be able to evaluate your grandmotherís situation on a day to day basis and keep you informed accordingly.
If the worker tells you your grandmother has been doing dangerous things such as leaving the stove on or water running, you may want to consider removing the knobs from the stove and looking into safety products such as anti-scalding devices and wandering indicators. The Alzheimerís Store offers a number of useful products and www.thiscaringhome.org contains vital information for ensuring safety in the home.
Communicate with your grandmother as best you can about the changes you are noticing. Take your lead from her, remembering not to engage in an argument should the conversation escalate. Include her in as much of the decision-making as possible, remembering that she may be unable to make the best decisions for herself. Honor her wishes as best you can while always respecting her and ensuring her safety and dignity.
Our 24-Hour Helpline can provide you with information about these and other resources, as well as with emotional support and assistance with care planning. We are available around the clock, 365 days a year and can be reached at 800-272-3900.
Please e-mail your Dear Helpline questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.