fbpixel In Conversation with Amy Chidester | Home Care Expert Insights

Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Amy Chidester to Bring Her Insights on Elderly Caregiving

Providing caregiving for the elderly requires patience, empathy, and adaptability. In this dynamic, communication is key. Listen actively to their needs, preferences, and concerns. Foster open dialogue to address any issues or changes in their condition. Next, establishing a routine can offer stability and predictability, which is comforting for the elderly. Ensure their daily activities, such as meals, medication, and personal care, are consistent.

Thirdly, maintain a safe and comfortable environment by removing hazards, installing handrails, and utilizing assistive devices as needed. Regularly assess their surroundings for any modifications or improvements.

Also, it is vital that you promote independence while offering support when necessary. Encourage the elderly to participate in decision-making and activities that engage their physical, cognitive, and social abilities. Attend to their emotional well-being by providing companionship, validation, and encouragement. Acknowledge their feelings and validate their experiences with empathy.

Lastly, prioritize self-care to prevent burnout. Seek support from other family members, friends, or professional caregivers when needed. Remember, caregiving is a journey that requires both dedication and self-compassion.

To shed some light on the same, we interviewed a home care industry expert to bring her perspective on caregiving for the elderly.

Expert QA session with Amy Chidester

Who Did We Interview?

Amy Chidester is a certified gerontologist, caregiving advocate, and professional caregiver with over 20 years of experience in assisted living care for older adults to live their best lives. She’s also the founder of RA Chidester Consulting, LLC, an Agetech and Healthcare Operational Consulting firm, and directs the first and only virtual Global Agetech Innovations Lab (GAIL); essentially a matchmaking laboratory that brings together the expertise of researchers, government agencies, educational institutions, regulators, innovators, businesses, consumers, gerontologists, caregivers, human service providers, healthcare organizations and financial institutions to improve the products and services that help improve the quality of life of the elderly.

Let’s now delve into what she has to say about the home care industry:

Question 1: What, according to you, should families do when hiring a caregiver for their elderly?

Aside from the safety checks (criminal background checks, driving records and credit reviews depending on what services they are providing), finding the best “fit” is the most important. Those seeking employment as caregivers are looking for flexible hours, diverse responsibilities, and benefits. Determine what you could offer them as well, as when the schedule, expectations of responsibilities and the financial/benefit expectations suits the caregiver, they would be more likely to keep working with your family and your loved one.

Personality also goes into the “fit” category as it would need to mesh well with your loved one. So many times, caregivers are hired out of necessity and the personalities are conflicting and it isn’t good for either side of the equation. Two big mentions about hiring a professional caregiver: consider the tax requirements/responsibilities and the liability/worker compensation aspects. Some home insurances cover some things, but you would need to determine how, in case of other insurances, you and your family would be covered in an unfortunate situation of someone getting hurt on either side (the caregiver or your loved one). Also, if you engage a company/organization for hiring, it may save you a lot of headache as it will be the organization’s responsibility for the caregiver to show up on time. If you hire privately, you’re left to decide how the care will be provided when a caregiver calls in sick.

Question 2: How can caregivers maintain the independence and dignity of the elderly and their families when providing care?

As a gerontologist and a provider of senior services for over 20 years, I think it is so important to make sure the older adult and their family members have a chance to participate in decisions and discussions as much as possible about the care they receive. Older adults may have conditions that require assistance, but they have lived a full life, received degrees, survived some of the most amazing ordeals and all of that plays into their perspectives and decisions. They should have a say, if possible, in what happens to them and around them. I think that gets overlooked when care teams are “just trying to do the best for the person” but they need to consider the feelings and thoughts of the individual and their family to actually be doing what is “best”. It is a relative term.

Question 3: How can caregivers prevent burnout and manage their work-personal life?

Breaks. All caregivers need to take steps back to take steps forward. Mothers, formal and informal caregivers need time away. It doesn’t make them less of a caregiver, but in fact it builds their ability to continue to care in an even better way by taking care of themselves. I once heard someone tell me that as a mother, she’s struggling to find time for self-care. The small things count too. Take a few moments to take deep breaths and calm down before entering the house at the end of a workday. Or listen to a podcast while walking the dog or mowing the grass…these too are a part of self-care.

Question 4: How can I help my aging parents from afar? (You can talk about hiring a caregiver to assist them with activities of daily living.)

There are lots of ways in which you can contribute to assisting your aging parents from afar, especially in today’s time, when there are apps to help and services that didn’t exist before the pandemic. You can plan pharmacy deliveries, manage referrals for physician visits, transportation, hire house cleaners, set up grocery deliveries or meal deliveries, provide remote monitoring tools to know when they need more help than they normally do, and do much more. There are so many things that are possible today.

Question 5: What advice do you give to new family caregivers?

Give yourself grace. There is no instruction manual, you will not know what to do, but educate yourself, connect with other caregivers and go easy on yourself, you are doing your best.

In Conclusion

Caregivers must take breaks regularly and do whatever works for them to feel relaxed and at ease. Only then will they be able to deliver optimum care. Also, there are so many apps to assist caregivers today-they can get groceries or medicines delivered in a jiffy, hire house cleaners, and do so much more by just a few taps on their mobile devices. They must also involve those receiving care in making decisions for themselves as much as possible, as this promotes the dignity and thus, the well-being of the elderly.

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