Changing Our Outlook on Eldercare
By Cindy K. Sproles
Caring for our aging parents has changed. As more families hire outside caregivers, the assumption that everyone can be trusted often rules over practicality. Families strapped with continual eldercare easily lose sight of the need of additional security. The rising cost of eldercare is devastating. Families look at small pensions and even smaller Social Security checks and wonder how they’ll manage to provide the care their parents need -- and deserve. In an effort for immediate help and a need to stretch dollars, safety sometimes slips.
When hiring a caregiver outside the confines of a reputable licensed and bonded company, certain issues should be addressed. Often caregivers are hired on a handshake rather than fact and reliability. Families trust and hope the person who stepped in to care for their loved one is all they appear to be. Hiring outside caregivers require families take the necessary steps to insure those providing care are reputable and trustworthy.
How can a family ensure this safety? The process begins with one or two intense interviews with the caregiver. Assigning this task to two separate family members or a trusted friend also can provide an objective view.
Run a background check. Background checks are not a luxury to be ignored. Like in other professions, dishonesty lurks. Predators feed off the innocence and faith of the elderly. They stand ready to win the trust of families, and then wreak havoc. Local law enforcement can help with city and county-wide checks. State Bureaus of Investigation can provide statewide checks, while reputable background-check companies can provide national inquiries for a nominal fee. Today’s economy has left many individuals transient, so reviewing complete local, state, and national background checks is important.
Protect possessions. Lock away valuables or have them moved to secure places that only select family members can access. This includes jewelry, money, checkbooks, and valuable items that can be easily carried away or kindly coerced away from aging parents. The rule of thumb is, if it’s worth something to you, it’s worth more to a thief. Our elderly came from an era where “giving” away items was an act of kindness and aging can cloud the importance of those possessions. Our parents may innocently give away valuable items if a caregiver shows an interest or need.
Set procedures in place for “giving away” items in the home. Post them in plain view so parents are reminded not to freely give away possessions.
Be pro-active. Make continued “surprise” visits to your aging parents’ home when caregivers are present. Being pro-active not only ensures good care, but it lessens the threat of questionable activity. Elder abuse is on the rise. We must make sure of their safety. Check arms, back, and legs for questionable bruising. Talk frequently with your elderly parents. Be inquisitive.
Financial Responsibility. Be mindful of your loved one’s finances. Frequently visit the bank to view banking habits and records. Make bank officials aware of spending limits and individuals allowed access to funds. Set small amounts of cash in the primary account, but keep the bulk of assets in a separate account, which requires your signature or presence to transfer funds. Cap limits on credit cards and keep track of the charges.
Communicate. Keep an open line of communication with aging parents. Avoid being pushy; develop a bond of trust and unity between family members and parents.
Provide a cautious, not fearful, environment for seniors. Remind them the world has changed and make efforts to prevent them from becoming the target of scams. Encourage them to report suspicious activity to authorities. It pays to be cautious whether you have family, company, or private caregivers, or even repair and maintenance people in the home.
As the roles reverse and we become our parents' caregivers, seek after their care with a joyful and protective heart. Even when illness takes their kindness and memories, remember they would be proud and pleased by your help.
May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice! (Proverbs 23:25)
Taking the appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of your aging parent should take precedence. The reward is seeing our seniors live a safe and secure life.
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Cindy K. Sproles is an author, co-founder and editor of christiandevotions.us and DevoKids.com. She is the co-writes the popular He Said, She Said devotions and co-hosts the Internet radio shows, Christian Devotions Speak UP! and He Said, She Said Radio. She is a popular speaker for ladies conferences and retreats and teaches at Christian writers conferences. Cindy’s devotions and articles are published in Christian newspapers across the country monthly. She is a contributing writer to Faith and Finances: In God We Trust and also Spirit and Heart: A Devotional Journey. Visit www.cindysproles.com.
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