Should I buy my own food as an independent in-home caregiver?

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I'm an independent in-home caregiver. If I'm working during mealtime should they provide the food or should I take my own? I've been in both situations and wasn't sure which was considered more appropriate. What if they want me to take them out to eat, should they buy mine or should I?

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You are being paid to do a job and should bring your own meal. The elderly person is essentially a patient whose mind may not be sound enough to comprehend. There are also family members that might see this as taking advantage in some cases. I would not accept food especially being taken out for meals. I would establish this as policy. If you take them to a meal, do not order or get separate checks. You aren't their date, you are being paid to help someone who is having trouble helping themselves.
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My main caregiver for my mother was initially hired as more of a companion as Mom was still quite capable. I encouraged her to share meals with my mother so that mom was not eating alone.

When DH and I went out of town, she insisted on cooking for my kids as well even though I was just going to leave pizza money.

She is family and I have included her in all meals where she happened to be with us. She does NOT take advantage.

We have taken her to Disney several times and we do not allow her to pay for anything except her own souvenirs. We provide park tickets and meals (she shares a room with Mom). We would also pay if we went out to dinner back home.

When I hired this latest batch of caregivers, I included in my orientation that they could help themselves to coffee and tea but were expected to provide their own meals.

They key is to communicate directly at the beginning of the arrangement.
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This is just my opinion but I'm the client's family. My father has dementia, my mother died a few years back with lung cancer. Paid caregiving was something new for us and we hadn't had any time to research caregiving. Our situation is a little different in that my father lives with us and we have paid daily caregivers. Unfortunately our caregivers don't really cook. They're able to cook the breakfast meal all the other meals tend to be what's convenient for them to put together for lunch. At first our caregivers would bring their own meals. Ocassionally I would offer food and somehow it morphed into us providing her breakfast and lunch as well. There were also times when she would take leftovers home and asked if she could donate some of the food to a needy family. I don't mind helping out from time to time but now it's getting out of hand. We've had to go to pre-preparing my father's meals and having to label everyone's leftovers so that she won't eat them. I've been given lists of food to purchase as "we're running low" but these are not the foods that my father eats, they're the ones that she eats! I was raised to offer food to others but when they start taking advantage that's another story. Suffice to say, it's best if you come to an arrangement before signing on with a family so there's no trouble later.
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As an independent, I do eat what I prepare but I try to eat t he least amount and not the best piece of chicken, you know what I mean. Last night I ate the back and a wing of a rotisserie chicken that I had prepared. The client had the thigh and leg and breast. His daughter ate something too. But my client ALWAYS wants me to eat with him, even if I don't want to eat. He insists I eat and is offended if won't go to dinner with him or won't accept food from him. It is very upsetting sometimes as I have a slight weight issue that creeps up when I don't exercise. So I've lately told him to please understand if I don't eat because I am on a diet. So I sort of have the opposite problem I think than most of the comments above. My client is extremely generous with his food, money and time and would absolutely like it if I were his spouse. So we have other issues as well, but I navigate these things the best I can. He is 84 and can't catch me, if you know what I'm saying. So we muddle through. He's the type of man who believes the woman is weak and idiotic, so again, we have many issues. But I've told him lately to please not be offended if I don't eat his food. That went over okay.
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Atta girl Pam! Thanks for sharing.
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Our home caregiver for my dad did both.. but she often brought home cooked soup or desserts she made to share with my folks! So we were happy to have her eat her with them if she wanted. She was willing to all the cooking, but mom liked to do it.. so they shared. We had her her 8 hours a day 3 or 4 days a week, and she was always welcome to eat our food. But this was made clear up front. We considered her part of our family. If she took folks out at thier request ( rarely) they paid , she was helping them anyway!
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You're getting a paycheck. Last thing you need is a client complaining you're eating them out of house and home. ... It happens.
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Get it from the horse's mouth. Ask the client how s/he feels about you bringing your own food. Most of them will probably insist you eat what they're having since you're preparing it anyway. In any case, make a habit of carrying snack items to keep your stomach busy until you get home.
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Thanks for the thoughts, they are helpful. In the case that I did eat with my client I was doing all the meal prep and she wanted me to eat with her. The jobs where I did take my own food I was just warming already prepared food and I was fine with that. However the one job I would occasionally work 24 hours or even 48 plus hrs straight if another caregiver was sick or gone. In that case I felt it was a little much to expect me to have all my own food.
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I am going off previous experience, we had a caregiver I did not like at all. She was fake and all concerned. I had a ritual of how I cooked...enough leftovers for the old folks to have for lunch or dinner the next day. It started gradual but it worked up to me making 3 pounds of shrimp for dinner for the ex, his parents and the worker with no leftovers. I ended up finding out the worker was taking them home or to other clients' homes. I am not saying the op is the same way, but quite a few will abuse it.
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