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18 Fearless Years


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chiefCrafting Successful Caregiver Partnerships

Although as a Fearless Caregiver, you are an equal and extremely important member of your loved one’s care team, the fact is that the most significant partnership you need to have might actually be with the loved one for whom you care.

Sometimes our most important work includes being able to juggle what your loved one truly needs with what they truly believe they want. From them not wanting to consider home security systems (which have gone miles beyond the old red button we all remember from the 1980’s commercials to becoming true home monitoring systems) to the value of taking part in appropriate clinical trials and, most important of all, to their acceptance of in-home helpers. Reframing how you approach a tricky subject can make all the difference in improving their quality of life. Even if your loved one is no longer able to cognitively participate in his or her care, the fact that you are treating them with respect is something that is still felt and appreciated.

At a Fearless Caregiver Conference many years ago, an attendee (Stephanie) spoke of how she had been trying to convince her mother that in-home care was needed, but she was meeting resistance from her mom at every turn. What helped seal the deal was when Stephanie adjusted her own attitude to that of (as we say) the CEO of Caring For My Loved One, Inc. and treated her mother as her organization’s primary client. From then on, things became easier for her when it came to in-home care. Stephanie would hold “client meetings” with her mother and tell her, “You are the lady of the house–it is your home and you are in charge—you are the boss; the home care aides are here to be of service to you.”

When Stephanie would return home after work, she’d sit down with a yellow-lined legal pad in front of her mom and ask what she thought of the homecare aide that day, how it was working out and even what else she would want the aide to do. Stephanie’s concern for her mom’s opinion really made a change in her acceptance of in-home help.

Stephanie said she also wanted her mom to know that, while she was the CEO, it was her mom who was the Chairperson of the Board. Once that was understood, after every homecare visit, her mom would actually ask for more things that she would like the in-home caregiver to do for her.

The reason I bring up Stephanie’s story is that, fast-forwarding four years into the future and a thousand miles away, a male caregiver (Brad) at an event in South Florida told me that he had been pulling out his hair trying to get his dad to accept in-home care. His dad had been a high-powered executive, but was cognitively no longer able to help make any decisions. Brad knew if he could get his dad’s acceptance, it would pave the way to getting the help he so desperately needed. I shared Stephanie’s story and received an email from Brad a few months later. He told me that by letting his dad feel that he was still Chairman of the Board of his company and these folks worked for him, his dad’s attitude changed and he became extremely happy with the new in-home help he was receiving.

Puzzle solved. Baldness prevented. As of last report, his dad is still happily living at home, directing the work of his in-home helpers.

Now, that’s teamwork!


Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine

Monday September 9th, 2013


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