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Hi! I need some ideas! My 87 year old Father and 92 year old MIL live with me, my husband and our ten year old son. I am a Professor at a local community college, and I often have to bring work home. There's no time clock for my job. Additionally I have ADD, and I can be VERY distractable.
When I am home, Dad's caregivers want to visit, discuss politics, talk about what they had for dinner, arguments with spouses, boyfriends, strangers in the parking lot at the mall-anything that comes into their heads. While these personality characteristics can very great for entertaining an elderly parent, it wears me out!
Example: I had several projects due yesterday, meetings to prepare for, laundry to get done. And Dad's caregiver followed me down the hall to my bedroom, followed me into the laundry room, stood next to me while I fixed my lunch wanting to discuss the attack at the Boston Marathon. While I was on the computer, trying to email a colleague at work, she was talking about meeting up with someone for a date. I said, "______, I'm working, " and she stopped talking for about one minute, then started up again. I finally just refused to answer.
They also ask me questions about duties that they perform routinely every day. For instance, "It's Monday, should I change your Dad's sheets on his bed?" Answer: "Don't you do that every Monday? It's in your job description."
Why are they asking? It make me wonder sometimes what they do when I'm not at home.
I think anyone who seriously chooses to care for the elderly is an Angel and a gift from Heaven. My Dad's caregivers think it's a religious calling. I am lucky, because these women are dedicated, punctual, and take great care of my folks. They are also easily miffed and insulted when I or someone else suggests improvements in their work.
And when I come home from work, I am often met with a greeting committee with a list of requests or issues. Sometimes I haven't even put my purse away!
While my house is a workplace, and it is my home, it is not a sanctuary. I often feel as if I've left one public arena (work) and entered another one, which is my house.
Why do I deal with this? I don't want to lose my temper and insult these people. I worry that I will say or do something impulsive that I will regret later. I often dread coming home and wish I could stay at work.
I feel like I am ranting a bit, but I am hopeful some of you can help me put things in perspective!

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Great idea, the manual. I forgot about those. I made one that had articles in it-- that I referred to as well--from the Alzheimer's Association, ideas for activities that elders could do, etc. Also had one with extensive step by step instructions for giving my Mother a shower and getting her dried off before she started screaming. lol It started at 7 am and had hourly "tasks" until bedtime at 8 pm.
Routine helps the elder as well and keeps the caregiver efficient.
If a hired caregiver is ignoring the manual and skipping her job description, then there are other caregivers to hire who care about fulfilling their job. That's how I look at it.
Mooz, another thing I thought of: pick a time of day that you are willing to speak with the caregiver who keeps interrupting you. Let her know that she can come to you at that time to discuss any concerns she has about her tasks, your Dad, etc. Let her know you have 10 minutes and are happy to discuss her concerns. Your body language and consistency in your professional attitude will establish the guidelines. Yay:) xo
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Moozklmel, my dad was similarly frustrated with the round the clock caregivers in his home. They would frequently skip tasks. In an effort to help them be more self-directed, I made a binder that covered every aspect of their job from driving directions to the grocery store to tasks each shift was responsible for on specific days of the week (the agency provided 5-10 caregivers each week sometimes), mom's favorite meals and snacks, activities she could do independently while they did the housekeeping, etc. While the agency thought the manual was a terrific idea, some of the less motivated caregivers took one quick look and never referred to it again, continuing to skip chores. I ended up making a combination schedule/task list. It was two sided and I put it in an acrylic display stand on the kitchen counter. That helped a lot but ultimately it was just too much of an intrusion for dad and he moved her to a facility. In his small town, there weren't other agencies to work with instead. Kudos to you for trying to make this work.
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Thanks everyone for the input! I do need to set better boundaries and speak up when someone is invading my space. I am also putting together a household manual for the caregivers and moving my office from the kitchen (there is the gist of the problem) to the dining room.
And onlyoneholly, you rant all you need to. I did. Cheers!
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Hi onlyoneholly:) You are fine. No matter what we are talking about regarding caregiving, it's stressful!! Even the caregivers we hire to relieve us, the head caregiver. It's maniacal, one of the toughest life lessons. Knock on wood. CMA
Breathe deeply, dear holly. We are doing the best we can at any given moment. xo
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Above note is a rant -- I'm sorry, it's a pet peeve that touched a nerve. I'm not mean and do have a lot of respect for caregivers. Some personalities need to be up front about expectations.
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Absolutely set boundaries! Set a time to talk about your elder's needs and make lists -- I am a list-maker. Many folks are not like that, but if you need to, talk with their boss and explain the importance of it. There are better-equipped and numerous child-care centers that cannot operate without a "list" and I do not understand why elder-care situations are not the same way. Put them in your shoes for a moment and ask them if they would want their home tasks interrupted. If they wish to chat -- are they willing to do it when chores are done and they are off the clock? I have a habit of reaching for the laundry to be folded or dusting -- anything to get something done while chatting is going on. I will not let them be idle. I am friendly and a good listener, but I do not like just "chat" on paid time. My time is valuable too, and I've got to take care of the elder when they get to walk out the door. And, the "haven't even put down my purse yet" stuff? One of my worst gripes. If I have to, I will be blunt and say, "I need 5 minutes" and walk past them. Set boundaries!
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I understand. I went through similar situation when I had my Mother in our home. After not sleeping well every night then getting her ready for the day and doing most of the physical work like shower, dressing, breakfast, the caregiver would arrive and want to chat. I just wanted my home and life back. I ended up leaving for most of the day and drove myself crazy--as well as all over town. $$$
You are the Boss. It is Your home. We want to be appreciative of these people, so we socialize. I think it is better to keep the relationship very professional and make sure they have their job description clear. Maybe the ones you have are not the best for your circumstances? Are they exercising your Dad? Reading to him, taking him out for walks, to the library, out for coffee or to the park? Whatever is physically possible for him.
They need a schedule. Make a weekly one for her/them to follow.
Ask caregiver to come into your home office and sit down while you are at your desk. This needs to be a psychological ploy. Take charge and lay down the new approach. Remember that the mood and attitude comes from management.
I needed to learn the same lesson, that's why I'm answering you. We want to be nice, but we want them to respect us and put out their best effort, not just do the least. She is there for your Dad, not to have tea!!! I totally understand the scenario. You can do it, dear one:) xo
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I work at home and have dealt with it for years. I know this is easier said than done, but you will have to set boundaries with them. One thing I have done is to make sure that I have an office space with a barrier such as a door. I have told others, in no uncertain terms, that if my door is shut I am not to be interrupted unless it is an emergency. I have even used the code words red, white, and blue. Red = Something or someone is on fire. White = They are pale and very ill and need immediate attention. Blue = Someone is turning that color. Otherwise, everything else can wait.

You might also schedule a specific break time and indicate that you will be willing, for 5 minutes, 10, 15, whatever, to take a break and answer questions regarding their care. Have them write down a list of questions, information, etc., so that they are ready with care-specific questions and not just spontaneously speaking. However, once that time is over you must return to work. Then be strict about it. They will take their cues from you. If you waffle, you'll be back to square 1.

I know it is hard, but this is how I've managed it for the past 9 years.

I would also have a very stern conversation with the caregivers. Tell them that you appreciate everything they do for your family, and you are eternally grateful for their help. However, when you arrive home, you have work to do that cannot be interrupted. If they do not comply, then it's time to request other caregivers. They are there to care for your family, not be entertained.

I know it is hard, and that it is a delicate balance, but setting these boundaries and times will help significantly.
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I meant HOW do I deal with this, not "why." Sorry, didn't proofread well!
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