Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Jean Ross to Bring Her Insights on Caring for the Elderly

Supporting our seniors isn’t just about medical needs; it’s about honoring their independence and enriching their lives. For many older adults, their home is a sanctuary filled with memories.

Care at home allows them to age in familiar surroundings, promoting a sense of security and dignity. Caregivers become more than just assistants; they become trusted companions. They help with daily tasks, ensure safety and well-being, and bridge the gap of social isolation.

A friendly face offering conversation and shared stories combats loneliness, a huge concern for seniors. This social connection is vital for mental and emotional health.

Moreover, caring for the elderly isn’t a one-sided act. It strengthens the fabric of our society. By supporting our elders, we invest in a future where we, too, will be cared for with respect.

The experience fosters valuable lessons in patience, empathy, and the importance of cherishing loved ones across generations.

Caring for seniors isn’t just about physical needs; it’s about creating a cycle of care and respect. It allows our cherished elders to live their golden years with a sense of purpose, comfort, and the love they deserve in the familiar warmth of their homes.

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

Expert QA session with Jean Ross

Who Did We Interview?

With over two decades of experience as a nurse in critical care and 1000+ hours coordinating care for older adults, she started a venture – Primary Record – four years back, for families to have one secure place to organize, collaborate, and share health data, bringing together invaluable information scattered across patient portals, ring binders, and post-it notes.

Primary Record focuses on the family caregiving experience to create tools to simplify the overwhelming amount of health information they handle and use for better care.

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

Question 1: What should families do when hiring a caregiver for their elderly?

Caregivers often come on board during significant transitions or after a crisis, when families are under pressure to find help quickly through online platforms or local referrals.

However, frustration can arise when caregivers are not immediately effective, adding to the family’s burden.

To mitigate this, set clear expectations from the start. Prepare a detailed list of initial tasks for the caregiver, and allow this list to evolve as they become more familiar with your family’s dynamics and your family member’s needs.

If the caregiver’s duties include transporting your family member, ensure they have all the necessary resources and information to perform their tasks effectively.

A hired caregiver is not a family member replacement. They come with unique skills and ways to get tasks done. When families approach their caregivers as part of a growing team, I have found this approach helps build the foundational trust needed in such a situation.

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

We all yearn for purpose and connection. Yet, we often overlook older adults’ personhood, treating them more as tasks than individuals. I’ve found that simply sitting down, making eye contact, and engaging them in conversation about their lives can significantly improve care interactions.

When it is time to provide care, these established relationships allow for clear communication about what needs to be done, why it is important, and how the older adult feels about the timeline and care methods.

This approach respects their dignity and improves the effectiveness of the care provided.

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

Burnout is, unfortunately, common. Our capacity to care for others is linked to how well we take care of ourselves. Learn to recognize the early signs of burnout and take steps to prevent a total shutdown.

Setting aside time for an old hobby or planning something as significant as a vacation might seem unfeasible, but it’s crucial to adhere to these plans as you would a healthy diet.

Your work and personal life will often be unbalanced throughout your caregiving journey. Rather than striving for constant balance, it’s healthier to acknowledge that there will be uneven periods. Remind yourself that these imbalances are temporary.

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.)

Managing aging parents from afar typically progresses in stages. Initially, you might handle research, coordination, bill payments, phone calls, legal matters, house maintenance, and health record management.

Understand that parents may not relinquish all responsibilities at once, so assess your skills and identify your strengths. Gradually, you can learn about the senior service networks in your parent’s community and get to know the key contacts.

Look into your parent’s local area agency on aging or explore online community social groups. If your parent has a specific condition, like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, explore related associations for additional resources and support.

This groundwork ensures you’re somewhat prepared if a crisis occurs. I advise adult children that understanding legal matters, their parent’s finances, and health wishes—through tools like The Conversation Project or 5 Wishes—along with tracking health changes greatly simplifies future challenges.

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

I advise those new to their roles that our home care system was not designed to always include them. As a critical care nurse, I remember nights when I realized at the end of my shift, “Oh shoot, I forgot to call that daughter back.”

It wasn’t her fault or mine; the infrastructure simply doesn’t support close collaboration with families in caring for their loved ones. It may be uncomfortable initially, but I reassure new families that they are invaluable to the care team. If they ever feel undervalued, I urge them to seek care elsewhere.

In Conclusion

Hiring a caregiver is crucial, but success hinges on clear communication. Set expectations, prioritize independence, and remember caregivers are human too. They need respect and self-care to offer their best.

As a family member located far away, you can help by planning, researching resources, and understanding your parents’ wishes.

Finally, new caregivers should not be afraid to advocate for themselves as they’re vital to the care team.

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Want to contribute to our expert insights for the 'Home Care Q/A' series?

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