Preparing For a Live-in Caregiver –
7 Steps That Ensure a Positive Experience
Transitioning to a Live In Caregiver
Step 1 – Communicate With Your loved One
Consider the value of talking with your loved one in advance of hiring a live in caregiver. Explain that you will be needing the help not only for your own health and well being, but for your loved one’s safety as well. Explain what an live in caregiver can and will do, and what things will remain the same. Unless your loved one is in an advanced stage of cognitive dysfunction, he or she will likely be both happier and more cooperative if given the opportunity to think about the approaching situation. It will provide some extra time for them to mentally adjust to the idea of someone new being present in their home.
Step 2 – Gather Information To Share With Your Caregiver
Gather all your loved one’s medical information to share with your incoming live in caregiver:
- Phone numbers for doctors, social workers, pharmacy and emergency contacts as well as the numbers for yourself and at least one other family member
- Medication schedule
- Physical activity or therapy routine
- Dietary requirements
- Advance directive or living will instructions
- And other relevant and helpful information
Step 3 – Secure Sensitive Personal Items
Most caregivers are both honest and sensitive, but for everyone’s legal benefit gather all sensitive personal items and documents. Secure them either in a locked desk or file cabinet, your own locked bedroom, or a safe deposit box. Also, consider if you will feel comfortable having your caregiver receiving the mail, or if instead, you wish to begin having personal mail sent to a loved one or a Post Office Box.
Step 4 – Live-in Care
Consider who will fill in when your main live in caregiver sleeps and takes a day off. If it can’t be you or another relative, then you will probably need to have two or more caregivers taking shifts, and they may each go home to their own residence when not on duty.
Step 5 – A Live In Caregiver Needs a Private Room
Designating a spare bedroom for the live in caregiver’s use is important for everyone in the household. There may be times when your senior loved one needs time alone or time with visitors and wishes the caregiver not to be present. The caregiver will also need a private place to mentally or physically rest between tasks as well as a private place to sleep at night. A single designated bedroom will suffice even if more than one caregiver is needed to cover varying shifts. Make sure that the bedroom has an ample supply of bed linen and towels. Also be sure to relocate anything which you or your loved one might wish to access so you won’t need to intrude on your caregiver’s privacy when he or she is resting.
Step 6 – Small Preparations For Smooth Functioning
Little things that help make everything go smoothly:
- A baby monitor can allow the caregiver to rest in their own room and still hear when your loved one needs help.
- Labeling the shelves in the fridge and cabinets can keep everyone’s foods from being confused and will make serving your loved one faster and more easily. Seniors often require or prefer special foods, and caretakers should have space to store their own foods. Try one shelf for your loved one, one for the caretaker, and the rest of the fridge and cabinets for you and your other family members.
- A centrally located, designated notebook for you and your caregiver to keep notes on your loved one’s condition, activity, and medication, so everyone in the household stays informed and coordinated.
- Outline any house rules you may have such as types of music and TV, comfortable volume levels, personal phone calls, internet usage, lights-out times, etc.
Step 7 – Questions To Ask For Getting Exactly The Right Caregiver For Your Needs
Does your loved one need more care at night or in the daytime? Does your loved one need physical assistance getting up and down, going to the bathroom, or out of the house shopping or to the doctor? Or does your loved one just need companionship, medication reminders, and to have light housework done for them including meal preparation and laundry? Do you want a caregiver who shares your religion or culture? Do medications need to be administered? (If so, you might need a specially licensed professional.) Talk with your home care provider about your loved one’s specific needs to ensure you are assigned exactly the right caregiver for your requirements. And remember, the transition to having a live in caregiver will always go much more smoothly with just a little advance thought and planning.