When Do I Need a Geriatric Consultant?

1 May

Most people do not even know what a Geriatric Care Consultant does let alone whether they need one.  Geriatric Care Consultants can be very important under many different circumstances.

  1.  For many children who do not live in the same city or have extremely demanding schedules with little extra time, they may need an experienced Geriatric Consultant to help navigate their parents’ needs.  Some of those needs may be medical in nature such as: escorting them and being there for important doctor consultations; hiring caregivers or other supportive staff; supervising caregivers and directing them; determining medical needs and finding the appropriate doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dentists etc.   A Geriatric Consultant can provide accurate reports of vital information so that the children can make informed decisions with regards to their parents.  Geriatric consultants can also give advice with regards to financial matters.  They can direct children to lawyers and accountants who have the right expertise for each circumstance.   If a nursing home or retirement home is necessary, a Geriatric Consultant can direct you to the right ones.  If staying at home is the preferred option, a Geriatric Consultant can help with retrofitting the home to meet the physical challenges that have to be faced.
  2. There are instances when an individual is asked or needs to be a Power of Attorney (POA) or guardian for a senior or disabled family or non family member.  A Geriatric Consultant can direct them to the right professionals who can make sure that every aspect is executed properly.
  3.  Conflict resolution.  Many times there are conflicts among family members as to the direction of care for their loved one.  Other times there is resistance on the part of the person who needs care to accept care. An experienced Geriatric Care Consultant can help negotiate, arbitrate, and bring resolution and clarity to these dilemmas.
  4.  Advocacy.  There are times when a loved one is in a facility such as a hospital or nursing home and needs someone to advocate for them and make sure that their need are being addressed especially if there are no family members or none in the same city.  Dealing with insurance companies or other financial obligations may be difficult especially when a strong position has to be taken.  A Geriatric Care Consultant can advocate effectively for the senior hopefully to a just conclusion.
  5. General support and fellowship.   Sometimes it is just comforting to have someone who is experienced and knowledgeable to talk to when making care decisions when it comes to a loved one.

Many care decisions are precipitated by a crisis or sudden change in the health of a loved one. That can be stressful enough.  It is always a good thing to have a level headed, experienced professional working alongside you to advise, assist, co-ordinate and reassure you at those times.

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How Much Do I Pay My Caregiver?

29 Mar

Everyone who is looking for a senior caregiver is looking for the best candidate at the lowest rate.  It is difficult enough to find a qualified and competent candidate, but cost is almost always a consideration in the equation.  Caregiver rates may vary due to the following factors:

                                                         

  1. Location:   You can almost always count on the rate to increase if you live in the suburbs as opposed to a metropolitan city.  The further you are away from the city the more costly it may become.
  2. Car and Driving Requisite:  If you require that your caregiver drives and has a car that may increase the rate.  Many caregivers may also ask for an additional gas allowance. It stands to reason that owning a car comes with additional expenses which the caregiver has to cover.
  3. The Number of Individuals in the House: Even if the caregiver is only responsible for one person, an additional member in the household adds to the work load.   It is not just the physical work that increases. Balancing the different personalities and moods of additional individuals in the home can be very taxing.
  4. Physical Needs of the Patient: With an increase in duties comes an increase in the rate.  One example of this is “lifting” or “transferring”.  Most caregivers believe this to be the most physically stressful part of any care giving job.  Some caregivers will not even accept a job if they know that there will be lifting involved. 
  5. Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or Psychological Issues: Unfortunately many Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients can be aggressive and require additional skills.  The emotional and physical toll it takes on a caregiver shrinks the pool of qualified and experienced caregivers capable of handling the situation.
  6.  Duration of the Job:  Most caregivers are looking for long term assignments.  Respite or “fill-in” cases generally command a higher rate.
  7. Week Days vs. Weekends:   Rates may vary between the two.
  8. Holidays:  Rates generally increase.
  9. Hospice Care:  Caring for a terminal patient can be emotionally and physically demanding.  In addition, caregivers are concerned about the duration of the assignment hence the possible increase in the rates.

 

The time of year, the caregiver’s years of experience, and the caregiver’s previous salary etc. are very important factors as well.  Sometimes the caregiver asks for a low daily rate but requires vacation pay, food allowance, holiday pay which certainly must be calculated into the final rate.

Sometimes it just comes down to luck.  You can get lucky and find an exceptional caregiver with excellent qualifications who is willing to accept a lower rate.  It can happen, but it is best to be realistic at first so that you can appreciate your luck at the end.

 

 

Finding the Right Housekeeper

7 Feb

 

Let’s face it.  Our lives are very busy and there are a lot of things to keep us busy.  Many women are trying to be super in the job market, super moms, and yes, even super wives.  In addition, as women, we need a certain amount of time for grooming and health care.  This leaves very little time for keeping the house orderly and clean.

Though for most of us, help with housekeeping may seem like a luxury, if you see this as an investment instead of an expense it makes good sense.  If you are working outside of the house, having the extra time and energy to devote to your career and advancement pays in the long run.  If you’re a mom, having more time, energy, and peace of mind will only benefit your children.  If you are both, well certainly the investment is exponentially important.

Before you start the process of finding a housekeeper make a list of all the chores that you would like to have completed:

1.In the kitchen consider cleaning your  cabinets and appliances, inside and out, sinks, counter tops, floors, trash can and more.

2. In the bathroom, sanitize the toilet, tub and or shower.

3. Of course there is the general dusting, shining mirrors, changing linen, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning interior windows, making washes, and folding laundry etc.

Prioritize, and then try to realistically assess how long that should take.  This way you have a guideline of how many hours you need to hire someone for. Keep that list and the approximate time for each chore with you when interviewing.

Some of the characteristics that you should be looking for in a good housekeeper are:

  1. Reliability
  2. Honesty
  3. Takes Initiative
  4. Good Attitude
  5. Hard Working

These traits should be ascertained by checking references.  If the housekeeper is new to this, be on the lookout to see if they possess these qualities.

Of course housekeeping skills are very important, but a new housekeeper can be trained and instructed on how to do things the way that you like them.  Before starting a housekeeper, show them the products that you like to use and educate them on where and when they should be used.  I advise my clients to label each product.  Most important is to tell them what products should NEVER be used on different finishes. For example: Never use steel wool on stainless steel; Never clean a self cleaning oven with oven cleaners (unless specifically used for that purpose) or steel wool  since they will ruin the surface and will not be able to self clean; Never use bleach on rugs or any colored materials;  Never use Ammonia based products on wood; etc.  Give time guidelines on approximately how long you expect each chore takes to be completed.  For the first few times, be available and check in every so often to make sure that everything is going as you would like.  Once everything seems to be going smoothly, step back and don’t micro-manage.   Show the person trust, respect, and confidence that the job will be done right.  If something is not to your liking, politely ask for it to be done next time a certain way.  If you have an additional task that needs to be completed, ask if it is possible to be accomplished in the allotted time frame or if extra time is necessary.

The extra help in the house will create a more relaxed atmosphere.  You will enjoy a clean more orderly environment conducive to creativity and productivity. I recommend it highly.

 

Finding the Right Nanny

6 Dec

As a working mother of four children, I am well aware of the concerns of providing for childcare when both parents work.   In most cases, the responsibility of finding, hiring, and supervising the nanny is left to the mother.  If the nanny does not come on time, or quits abruptly, or is lacking in some other way, it is usually the mother’s concern and may mean disruption in work schedules for her or both parents.    As the mother I was also perpetually concerned about the quality of care given and worried that the nanny was not in any way harming my children. Concerns about stealing and improper behavior in my house while I was away were additional concerns.

 

As a provider of nannies and household support at Loving Care Inc., I deal with these issues with my clients as well. There are some recommendations that I give to families before and after they hire someone:

 

  • Check References.   When calling the prospective nannies’ references , it is important to ask the right questions.  Here are a sample of questions:

 

–          How long did she work for you?

–          Why is she no longer employed by you?

–          Was she on time every day?

–          Was she honest?

–          Was there ever a time that she disappointed you?

–          Do you still keep in touch with her?

–          How did you initially find her?

–          What were her specific duties?

–          Was she required to do heavy or light housekeeping?

–          What ages was your child (children) when she started and when she stopped?

–          Knowing what you know now, would you hire her again?

–          Did she enjoy interacting with your children?

 

There are times when the individuals that you are interviewing do not have previous child care references.    If they worked in another capacity check those work references.  If they have never worked, ask for personal references.   You can ask some of the same questions as listed above, adjusting them to their situation.  You may still get some very valuable information that will assist you in your decision.

 

  • When possible, come home unexpectedly.  It is important to check on the care, environment and the activities in the home when it is unexpected.  Hopefully you will find everything to your liking but if not, based on the degree of your discontent, you can take the appropriate action.

 

  • Take note of children’s reaction to the nanny.  If you discern any negative reaction to the nanny or any changes in your children in general do not disregard these signs.  Vigilance and continuous observation is of the utmost importance.  If the child can speak, have open conversations about how the child feels with regards to the nanny.    If the child cannot speak, look at body language and emotional signals.  Take everything seriously.  Of course, many infants do have separation anxiety from their mother and many older children may feel angry about their mother leaving the home, so good common sense when coming to conclusion should prevail.

 

  • There are those who feel that the technical approach is best such as built in surveillance cameras or audio equipment. It is a costly option that may not be extensive enough to catch every misdeed, but it may be the solution that seems the most accurate especially when an infant is involved.

 

I am glad to share my expertise with my clients, and I am happy to guide them through the interviewing process.   Most placements are successful from the start but sometimes a change is necessary.  It always comforts my clients to know that they have the agency, Loving Care Inc, to provide them with new applicants  immediately and help with temporary coverage if need be.  They can count on a supportive relationship throughout.

 

At Home Child Care and Senior Care Gives Family Members a Break

29 Nov

by Art Gib, freelance writer on behalf of Loving Care Inc (28-Oct-2011)

There are thousands of family members responsible for child care or senior care of their loved ones who are unable to fully care for themselves. Providing this full-time care is an extraordinarily difficult and exhausting job. Whether the loved one is a senior experiencing memory problems, a loved one of any age with an illness or disabilities, or an infant or toddler, ‘round the clock care is an overwhelming task for one person. Even when there are several members of a family involved as their time permits between other family and employment obligations, professional assistance can make a great difference in the lives of everyone involved, including the loved one.

Though most of the attention in these situations is on the person in need of care, care-givers have their own set of problems as a result of the responsibilities they have taken on. There are greater incidences of depression and health problems, especially those that are related to chronic stress. Care-givers often give up their valuable personal time that allows them to regroup and recharge. Other members of the family can suffer as well, especially children who have greater responsibility placed on them to take care of themselves and each other. Exhaustion, resentment, and anger can further stress already stressed families.

There is a solution that can help meet the needs of the loved one as well as those of the family that wants the very best care for that person. Home care services can be contracted for 24 hour a day care or only a few hours a week as needed to provide caring, knowledgeable services. With at-home care and geriatric counseling, seniors who need assistance with their personal needs such as bathing, dressing, food preparation, medication management, housekeeping, shopping, and more can remain in their homes to live independently. Those who are recuperating from a serious illness or surgery can get the help they need at home without imposing on friends or family members. Family care-givers can be relieved for a few days or a few hours a week to take care of themselves and their other family members.

Parents of infants and toddlers can trust nannies who are thoroughly screened by an experienced agency. Nannies and sitters are matched to the family’s needs, requirements, and personalities to ensure a good fit. For parents of newborns, a night-time nanny can let them both get a good night’s sleep.

For Chicago home child care, senior care, or geriatric counseling, choose an agency that has been in business for a number of years and that is fully licensed and bonded by the Illinois Department of Labor and Illinois Department of Health. You are placing someone dear to you into their care and you need to be assured that trust is well placed.

Choosing the Right Caregiver

20 Nov

Many of my clients have never gone through the process of interviewing and choosing the right caregiver.  They are unsure of the attributes that they should be zeroing in on.  There are certainly many criteria that one must take into account and prioritizing them may be very individual but here are some that should be considered.

  • Communication.   It is essential that you can communicate with the caregiver.  The caregiver may not speak perfect English but should certainly understand most of what you tell him or her.  Since the only language that I know is English, my clients can rest assure that the caregiver’s first test has to be if they can communicate with me. Beyond that, there are some individuals that are better with relaying vital information and have the good common sense to know when to do so.  That would be information that you could find out from their references.
  • Price.  Every family has a budget in mind for how much they would like to spend per week on a caregiver.  For some the price point is the sticking point, for others there are more important criteria.  Be very clear on how much you can spend and be realistic with your expectations. Price does not always determine the quality of the caregiver but it may limit your selection and the skills set that the caregiver may possess.
  • Skills.  For some families, only very basic skills are necessary; for others, more sophisticated skills are called for.  Some basic skills are:  cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, Skin Care and medication reminders.  Some advanced skills may entail:  Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care, Lifting and Transferring, Incontinence Care, Respiratory Care (Oxygen Mask), and Feeding (pureed and thickened foods).  All these should be taken in account when setting a price point and of course, when selecting a caregiver.
  • Personality and Demeanor.  There are some families who want their caregiver to be demure, quiet and low key; others want a take charge, strong and talkative individual; others want someone in between.  This is something that should be evaluated during the intake process as one of the criteria for your search.
  • Character.  A caregiver should be dependable, trustworthy, intelligent, responsible, caring, compassionate, on- time, reliable, clean, friendly, taking initiative level headed etc., all with the right measure.  Since each family feels more strongly about some character traits than others, prioritizing them would be important to do before the interview process.   These traits may be verified by calling references as well and observing the caregiver during the interview process.
  • Chemistry.  The elusive and abstract chemistry between two people is difficult to describe and to ascertain but there is always our initial gut reaction.  Liking the person at your initial meeting may be a good barometer of future interaction but of course, no guarantee. You can only hope for the best .

Sometimes we get it right the first time around and sometimes not.  Even equipped with all this knowledge, sometimes our first choice may not be the best choice.   I always tell my clients that they are not “married” to the caregiver and have the right to interview and hire another to replace him or her.    It is helpful to work with an agency and especially an experienced intake counselor who can also guide you through this process..

What Do You Do When a Senior Does Not Want a Caregiver But Needs One?

17 Nov

I have received many a phone call over the last 18 years from distressed family members who have a dilemma. They know that their loved one needs a caregiver but they are refusing the help.  Many reasons come into play such as the fear of using up their monetary resources, which may or may not be a legitimate concern.  Others are fearful of losing their independence, privacy, or self image. Others, unfortunately, are plagued by dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments and are not able to make rational decisions but still can adamantly resist. How do we balance these concerns with the obvious fact that extra help is imperative and necessary to maintain the individual in their home? How do we ultimately gain their compliance and acceptance of a caregiver in their home?

Many wealthy people have throughout history hired individuals to care for their every need.   They do so without any concern about relinquishing their independence, privacy or self image.  In fact it may be considered an entitlement based on their position in life. If a caregiver is needed it would be considered a natural necessity and there would not be any hesitation to hire one. Is the fear of losing one’s independence, privacy or self image a product of one’s economic class?   If so, how do we circumvent this?  If the senior in question realistically has enough money to support a caregiver, how do we convince them of this fact?  How do we rationalize with an individual who may not be completely rational?

Many questions and perhaps some answers.   There are different strategies that may be implemented.  The first one is to have an authority figure who states that under no uncertain terms that a caregiver is necessary.  This may be a doctor, a nurse, a spouse, a lawyer, a social worker, physical therapist etc.  The senior may take their edict more seriously and be willing to comply.  The next strategy is to reassure the senior that this is a temporary situation and with time the need will not be as great. After experiencing proper assistance, the senior may realize themselves how lovely and necessary it is to have companionship and care. Another strategy that some families employ with regards to financing care is not to divulge the full cost of the care.  They allow the senior to partially pay the cost while they supplement the rest.  Yet another strategy is to tell the senior that the caregiver is there to help another family member with household chores and activities and is not there for the senior per se.

I understand that it may not be comfortable for many families to employ these methods.  I do believe in these cases the end does justify the means in the respect that we have legitimate safety issues to be concerned about here.  I am also positive that there may be other ways to address these issues.  I would love to hear about your thoughts.