For family caregivers who have used a home care agency, what prompted you to seek help? What impact has it made for you and your loved one?

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As a family caregiver, we shoulder the lion's share of the responsibility and take it upon ourselves to provide care and support for our loved ones and be there in their time of need. How is one supposed to know when it's the right time to allow "others" in and seek the help of home care services and not feel terrible about not doing it all myself? I would really love to hear how others have approached this dilemma and gain their insights.

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Simple answer - I have to work sometimes and my dad is at a stage with his Alzheimer's and Parkinson's where he is too difficult for my (not so well either) 77 year old mother to handle.
I have someone come in on weekends (when I'm at work) for 6 hours each day to help with him (bathing, walking, feeding etc.) and to help my mom with light chores or just give her a break to sleep.
It's a good combo of us and someone else taking care of him so we don't burn out / lose my job.
There is financial aid available through the Alzheimer's foundation, Veterans Orgs. if the person was ever in the service and/or check with Medicare/Medicaid -- sometimes it's covered depending on the financial situation.
Interviewing agencies: google your area, interview several over the phone (first impressions are very helpful even in the initial conversation) and make sure they are insured, bonded and licensed and their home care workers have some medical background and make a list of questions. Any agency worth their salt will come to the home for an interview with you and your loved one -- that's how you weed out the good from the bad.
Think of it as a necessity not a luxury.

All the best from one caregiver to another.

Kathy
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My mother who is now 96 has had full-time home health aides from an agency for over 3 years. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2005. When she could no longer safely prepare meals, remember her meds, or be aware of time I tried to stay with her. (I only live 2 doors away but she needed to be watched 24/7.) It became apparent that the stress for me was too much. I felt like a ping pong ball going from the stress of verbal abuse in my own household to the same level of stress in my mother's. I have 3 siblings and they were of little use. So we reverse mortgaged Mom's house to pay for full-time care. It has saved my sanity. Has it been easy? Believe it or not, it isn't always a smooth operation finding agency caregivers who are a good fit for Mom. So I end up being the fill-in most of the time. But at least I know that I will be home in a couple of days. An agency costs more than independents but I have peace of mind that they are insured and bonded. Unfortunately, the money is now running out. I am now facing the same situation as I did a few years ago. I do not have room for her in my house but what do I do with her this spring when we can no longer afford full-time care? She is fully aware of her surroundings and wants to stay in her own home. Up to this point I at least had the satisfaction that she was able to be in her own home. But I have had to admit to my limitations and realize that at my age of 60, after doing the wife and mom thing, I am entitled to have a life too. Mom has lived hers and I am glad she has had such a long life but the stress of managing her life is shortening mine. I look back on the years of taking care of Mom and know that I was a good daughter and have done everything I could to keep her happy, healthy, and safe. Circumstances beyond my control (lack of finances) are now going to decide where she will live. I will always be there to emotionally support her and physically visit her wherever she is, probably a nursing home. Good luck to you. You sound like a caring and conscientious person. When you employ other "helpers" it is healthy all around. It keeps you whole so that you can be mentally and emotionally available for the most important issues and times. It also affords an opportunity for your family member to meet and interact with others. Choose someone with whom you and your family member is comfortable. This alleviates some of the anxiety experienced with "strangers" in the home. God bless you and yours.
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For me, it was that I had to work, then I left my job and found it harder at home taking care of Mom than it was going to work. Time is what does it, you can only do it so long without getting ready to crack. My Mom wakes up soaked, needs bathing every mornings, cannot walk alone, or transfer alone even. She needs 24/7 and it gets to the point of feeling like a prisioner in your own home. I have someone 3 morning for 3 hours and am now hiring for weekend care. Not including nights, I still do 72 hours a week with help. My husband and I havent had much time off in 3.5 years, unless we hired someone, and I had someone on weekends for about 6 weeks and it was great. We usually didnt even go out but we got to do things around the house, etc also. The woman didnt work out, and I am hiring again. I found having 8 hours off on the weekends helped me to be a better caretaker. I never loose my patience, but felt like it , and once I got help, I felt refreshed. I use the care.com service online and get their background checks done free . I weed thru many until I find the right one, you need to have your questions all ready for them before you even meet to save time. Make sure they dont want cash under the table, have references, experience, etc.
Please get some help and spent time with your husband, you will be better for it, really. A my Mom's doctor said, with the great care we give our parents at home, they will live a very long time, we have to live our lives at least 1 full day a week. Good Luck.
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My husband could not stay by himself. I had to work. No choice, but to get in home help. Lucky to find individual to come in during work hours. If I had not found this person, I would have had to use agency. If your loved one's physical, or mental state makes it unsafe for them to be alone - it's time to get help. Most likely their condition will deteriorate. It's better to find help before this happens. You can be more selective about the caretaker if you have time to look.
Even if you don't work, nobody can be there 24/7. It is absolutely in your loved one's best interest to get help.
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My mother is 92 and I am 72 (not exactly a "spring chicken". She moved in with me in July after falling three days in a row. We had been planning the move because she had been falling. Not hurting herself or breaking anything but we were afraid she would hit her head and not be able to use her "Lifeline". I have back problems myself and may possibly be facing surgery. I can cook, clean (after a fashion) grocery shop, etc. but giving my mom a sponge bath or getting her into my tub for a shower was very hard on me. I now have a home health care service coming for baths and physical therapy. Do I feel guilty? Heck no, I feel blessed that these services are available.
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My dad has lived with my husband and I for almost 4 years. Parkinson's and being 98 has taken it's toll on all of us. We started in July with a caregiver who was coming in once a week so we could get one 6 hour time away each week.
Dad has made a turn for the worse and hospice started 1 week ago. My dad has been a two person transfer for some time. That;'s why I'm tired! We also started having our caregiver come for 3 hours every monring during the week to start the day with dad. Weekends we take care of him. Of course, the rest of each day is our care also. His dillusions are increasing with trying to get out of bed, anxious over things he thinks he needs to do. Last night my husband slept in a chair in his room. We found great CNA's on a list from the Central Oregon Council On Aging.
Very helpful and the caregivers have been screened. Somewhat cheaper than an agency also. You wouldn't think 3 hours would hellp but when she gets here at 8:30 in the mornings I can do other things after I help her with pericare. Hospice sends out an aide on bath day and they work together and Medicare picks up the second aide. Our day away someimtes seems like such an effort to make but once we get in the car we feel refreshed. Try to find a organization that helps the aging and see what they have to offer. If money is no object then and angency would be greast. My husband and I are 76 and 78 so we are getting up there also. We also found that through his MD we could place an order for an evaluation of his strength, health, etc and then we had therapy, nurses, and all the imformation to help us. Medicare picked it up for two months. That's how we found out about the Parkinson's and that he wasn't just frail due to age. They were a great boost to us. Hope you can find some agencies in your area to help. My dad smiled when I told him he didn't have to pay for some of this. Our daily caregiver is paid by us. Keeps our spirits up when she comes in all smiles and spends time with him.
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we had no choice in our family situation. Our mother would be telling people we were not feeding her or taking care of her-basically saying -elder neglect or abouse- neither was the truth- she was angry because we took away a gun she kept under her pillow. It was all so stupid- but sad thing is some of her new church friends believed her and started bringing food - driving by our house and at one point got her an elder care attorney- we found an apartment moved her -hired a home agency - she has now lived on her own for about two years - and it has been amazing- after 30 or more years of many many illness-s she has been like Lazarus - she entertains those new "friends" and the agency was contracted by us but paid out of her monthly money- so they do the things we could not- three grocery store trips- curl her hair and take her to lunch -and she is really nice to them for $16.00 and hour. We get reports weekly from them - but she instructed them not to let us know who her doctors were- what medicine she is taking etc- she says she has no family- all of us are still there waiting on closure from a woman that says shes she is our mother and grandmother. At 86 it isn't going to happen- and for that it makes me sad for the rest of us - but as far as the agency- I guess they are doing as well as any agency could- the family dynamics as with a lot of others I read here vary so much.
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You can't do it all yourself. I lived 1,400 miles away from my Mom so there really wasn't any choice. I found the people were hit or miss. Some wonderful, some not so great. My Mom got tired too of having to train so many different people. We had much better luck with an individual we found. She was wonderful and it was more consistent. With the agency though they have insurance and when someone scratched my Mom's car they took care of it, including the deductible. Finding the right individual can be difficult. There is a woman in my Mom's neighborhood that we snatched up when the person she was taking care of moved into a nursing home. When my Mom moved closer to me some one quickly hired her too.

Good luck.
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