Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Need a caregiver? Do's and don’ts of hiring unemployed family members to be caregivers for a loved one.

Most of our clients are in the business of providing care to seniors in assisted living or other community based care settings.

We’re hearing recently that the current high level of unemployment is causing some of our clients to lose their residents to family members needing work – and pay.

It makes sense, certainly, to pay a loved one who desperately needs the work and income to care for mom, rather than paying strangers.

It makes sense, at least, only if the unemployed family member is prepared, capable and ready to provide care.

If I were considering hiring an unemployed cousin to care for my mother, here are some of the questions I’d be asking:

1. Does she have the temperament to be a good caregiver? Is she patient, compassionate, and caring by nature? I might consider how she handles pets, children, friends and neighbors. People who are by nature good caregivers tend to be that way with everyone in their sphere of contact. You can tell the good caregiver in your family – she’s the one who remembers that you hate chocolate, and buys vanilla cake for the party. She’s the one who will rush to pick up the fussing baby, and gently rock it back to sleep. If you think about your relatives, you’ll know who would make the best caregiver, and who probably wouldn’t. That’s question #1.

2. Does she have the time to be a good caregiver? Just because a loved one is unemployed doesn’t mean that she will devote the time to your relative you need. Caregiving means making a commitment to the person receiving care, and to you. Just being present (and spending most of the day job-seeking online) isn’t caregiving. Neither is adding an elderly loved one to a family with children, no longer going to daycare to save money.

3. Does she have the training to be a good caregiver? Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a make-or-break item on the list. Good caregiver training is available in many places in almost every community. Great books, guides and workbooks are available; there are even online courses for comprehensive caregiver training available and affordable.

These are the first three questions I’d ask myself if I was considering hiring a family member to care for my mom. It’s a good starting point for a very important decision.

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