Being in the sandwich generation, there most likely will come a time when you'll be helping your parents to find a caregiver other than yourself. We spoke with Jody Gastfriend, Vice-President of Senior Care with Care.com for the best things to look for in a caregiver for seniors. Here's what she had to say.
Caring for seniors requires specific skill sets and training. When hiring a caregiver, the right match is crucial. If your family member has dementia, it is important to find a caregiver with the right experience, level of engagement and patience. If your parent needs assistance with bathing and dressing, you need a caregiver who is trained to do personal care and can safely handle transfers without injuring him/herself or your loved one. Other considerations include language skills, cultural sensitivities, driving record (if applicable), reliability and compassion.
Finding a caregiver with the right communication skills is important. Will the caregiver need to coordinate with health care professionals and family members? How effectively will the caregiver communicate with your parent or loved one? Does the caregiver have a soothing calm tone of voice? Is the caregiver a good listener and able to understand the needs of your family member? Remember that communication is a two way street. Establishing clear expectations and open communication will help set the stage for a successful caregiving experience.
Caregiving is often a circuitous unpredictable journey and the best laid plans may need modifications on a regular basis. How adaptable is the caregiver to a change in routine or schedule? Can the caregiver balance the importance of safety with your loved one’s need for independence? Ideally, flexibility should be practiced by both the caregiver and family to maintain a mutually respectful relationship based on understanding and compassion.
Jody Gastfriend is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 25 years of experience in the field of eldercare