Dear Helpline,Dear Karla,
As parents age, roles often reverse and adult children may become the primary caregivers for their parents. This shift may cause mixed emotions. Adult children may feel angry, frustrated, or embarrassed when put in an unfamiliar situation with their parent, and their parents may feel similarly. It’s okay to feel an array of mixed emotions and turn to outside sources for assistance.
Getting your father to accept assistance with personal care may take some time since transitioning from being independent to depending on someone is difficult, especially for a person with dementia. Also remember that your father is of a generation in which men took great pride in being the provider and did not easily ask for help. Further, the home care profession is primarily staff ed by females and your father may feel particularly uncomfortable having a woman assist with his personal care. It’s important to keep his comfort in mind so the transition goes as smoothly as possible for all involved.
Finding a home care provider who will best suit your father’s needs can be time consuming and feel overwhelming. The Chapter offers a Home Care Sources booklet which lists home care agencies that responded to our home care provider questionnaire. Some agencies have had their staff attend our nationally recognized training in dementia care and some agencies also have male aides on staff . The Chapter also has a booklet entitled “Making Home Care Work for You,”* which provides information about various home care options, as well as ways to enhance the experience for all involved. This information may make this transition easier for your family. Contact our 24-hour Helpline at 800-272-3900 to request either booklet.
Once you hire a worker the next step will be introducing the home care worker to your father. While he might resist, it is important to remember your father does need help to remain safe in the community. Creativity is the key to planning a successful introduction. You know your father’s likes and dislikes— tailor the situation to best fit him. One suggestion is to appeal to his interests—does he enjoy painting, playing cards, watching football? If he enjoys painting, see if he will paint with the home care worker. It might also be helpful to have the home care worker give your father a gift, such as cookies or playing cards (which you provide), as a way of ingratiating himself.
Managing one’s personal care is a very private activity and it will take time for your father and the home care worker to develop a positive relationship. Most people feel vulnerable when being undressed in front of another person and in these situations it is best for them to feel safe and dignifi ed. There are products which can be worn while bathing so the person feels more at ease in a potentially awkward or embarrassing situation and the Helpline can provide some options. You can also visit www.thiscaringhome.org for information about home safety and training. In the special equipment and training section they have a lesson on how to give a less stressful bath. Remember, you can always call the 24-hour Helpline for additional assistance and support.
*Made possible by a generous grant from Emblem Health.
The 24-hour Helpline is always available to answer your questions and help you through diffi cult times. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at 800-272-3900 or email@example.com.
— Stephanie Aragon