In-home care is supposed to provide you with day-to-day assistance and peace of mind when it comes to taking care of your senior. You want to do everything you can to make your loved one comfortable and protect them from harm. However, as the old saying goes “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” This is much more likely to happen when you accidentally hire inexperienced, shady, or ineffective care. As a former social service director at a nursing home, I saw examples of this exact type of scenario all too often.
The inexperienced caregiver
The inexperienced caregiver is one who does not have the appropriate skills and knowledge to provide your senior with services. In my professional life, I saw many well-meaning friends and family members with no medical background attempt to assist patients after they were discharged from our facility. Many of these patients ended up back in the hospital, our nursing home, or sadly did not make it because their inexperienced caregivers didn’t know how to recognize or help them in urgent situations.
The shady caregiver
Even worse than the inexperienced caregiver is what we sometimes call the “shady caregiver.” These sinister individuals are little better than scam artists (and in fact, some of them are) when it comes to taking care of your loved one. Uneducated, unqualified, and usually unlicensed, they provide services “under the table,” and are often paid in cash.
You have no way of validating these individuals’ credentials – if indeed they possess any. You cannot call up your state medical board or licensing authority to make sure their license is in good standing. If they’ve committed past infractions against seniors – including abuse, neglect, thievery, and fraud – you may not find out until it’s too late. One of my patients found out five months after discharge that her caregiver had a warrant out for her arrest – in two states, no less! In one state, she was wanted for fraudulently using another senior’s credit cards while, in another, she stole cash from the victim and used it to post bail for a relative.
The ineffective caregiver
Both inexperienced and shady caregivers can, by definition, be completely ineffective. However, there are other ways one can fail to provide an elder with adequate in-home care. Sometimes, it’s an issue of simply not having enough care. If your senior needs round-the-clock care, but you only provide for eight hours a day — that is not enough to meet your loved one’s needs. Granted, it’s better than nothing, but it still leaves an enormous gap during which they can fall prey to illness, accident, and injury.
Understandably, finances may be a concern when it comes to paying for in-home care. However, there are many ways to cover the cover the cost of home health aides that you may not be aware of. You owe it to you loved one to explore all the possibilities before providing them with only the minimum of care if they clearly need more.
Another type of ineffective caregiver is the kind that is not well-suited to your loved one’s needs. If the senior needs weekly or bi-weekly visits from an RN (Registered Nurse) or LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) for wound care or injection therapy, a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is not the appropriate person to provide these services. In fact, attempting to have them do so may harm your loved one.
Don’t let your senior become an in-home care “worst case scenario”
There are many things you can do to prevent your senior from becoming an in-home care “worst case scenario.” Make sure any professionals you hire are experienced, legitimate, and able to meet the needs of your senior. They should be available as often as needed throughout the day, and even overnight if necessary. No one wants their senior to become a statistic, and fortunately, it’s a fate you can help them avoid by taking these simple precautions.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.