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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /Trust But Verify/  Editorial List

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Trust But Verify


One day, soon after I returned home to South Florida, I accompanied Mom on a supermarket shopping trip for my grandparents and the home health aide who lived with them in their apartment. The aide had given Mom a grocery list to follow. Mom told me that she had just been to the store recently and couldnít understand how they could have gone through so much food. I was overwhelmed by the amount of staples they needed. A five pound bag of sugar, a large bag of rice, ten pounds of chuck steak, etc, all items which mom had bought for them not two weeks ago.

I suggested that we stop by the apartment unannounced that very evening rather than wait until the next morning as the aide had requested. At first, when we walked into the apartment, I thought I had opened the wrong door. There were at least five adults and a dozen kids running around while all burners were cooking food and my grandparents were lying in bed unattended.

I ushered the family reunion out of the apartment and we stayed with my grandparents until a suitable replacement was found. Our first mistake as novice caregivers was not doing a thorough background check on the home health aide, having hired her on the suggestion of a friend of a friend of the familyís.

Although, I have become an advocate of using professional services such as a Home Health Agency or a Registry, good support can also be found from independent service providers, if you learn how to do your homework and remember that you are directly responsible for all applicable taxes and legal issues. The second mistake was sticking to a visiting schedule suggested by the aide. No matter how comfortable you are with the in-home service provider, you must always plan to either stop by on an irregular schedule or if that is not possible due to long distance caregiving, ask a local friend, relative or care manager to keep an eye on your loved one for you.



Gary Barg

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