My parents have moved in with us and although they can't live alone, they need only a little assistance right now. My dad is a fall risk, having had two back surgeries in the past two years. My mom has early dementia, with short-term memory problems. I want to establish a relationship with a care agency so that I can call on them as needs develop, and have arranged for a four-hour visit once a week for now. However, I'm not sure how to keep the helper busy right now. Any suggestions for our first day?

My Moms needs are higher level - and when I did have an agency helping once a week in the beginning - I felt just like you and had no idea what they could help with to pass the time when mom just still slept a lot after the stroke. It all depends on the person who comes as well as what your parents will allow.
Days will differ.
Sometimes moms helper does her nails and toenails - some days she just has enough time to help wash her up and switch my laundry - some days they pack a picnic lunch and go for a ride to a park or by the ocean - reads to her - does crosswords - plays games and does craft projects. Takes her outdoors for a stroll through the neighborhood - helps my mom find new books on tape or makes a calendar of birthdays (to help her remember special dates) and helps her choose gifts online and then they tell me what they chose for someone so I can order it.
Moms helper is a family member but even so i wanted her to know more about Mom so that I wasn’t constantly in the middle of them getting to know each other - so I made a folder with all sorts of ideas and lists of “all things Mom” anything like she has 3 grandchildren and their names - things she liked to do before and after her stroke - almost like a little bio so they could ask her about them and they were things I knew mom loved or meant a lot to her and it helped her open up to someone else - and allows them to get to know each other so I didn’t feel like I was always having to be in there giving ideas - games and tv shows and movies she likes - some of her therapy worksheets and then even things like ask or remind her brush hair or set up her toothbrush.
With an agency I was always getting someone new and having to repeat the same stuff - so just sitting down and making a list of a little info on your parents and their likes and then a list on things that you feel they could help you with it will allow them in any downtime to say “hey you have laundry I can help with”? Or ask your parents anyone up for a card game. Do anyone need anything at the store. Any prescriptions needing pick up. Do you have any birthdays and want to write cards out - It allows the helper to ask you and your parents things - that maybe even you forgot about in a busy day. 😊
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Momheal1

Before i hired the agency i currently have, one of their managers came for an interview. She asked me what activities my hubby needed help with; i.e., dressing, bathing, meds, toileting, etc. She then asked what household chores needed to be done. I gave her a list of things that the caregiver could do, but emphasized the caregiver's primary job was to be companion to my husband.
After 3 unsuccessful aides, a wonderful woman came. After 2 hours, I called the agency and asked for Lorraine full time. She has been with us for a year and a half.
We have a list of things to do, mop, vacuum, laundry, etc, split up over the week's time. She pretty much does as she pleases, although I do try to get her to slow down on the housework. My house as never been neater, and my husband looks forward to her arrival every day.
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Reply to Maple3044

I faced this very issue when my parents were living at home, especially since they did not think they needed help. I did two things that helped a lot:
1. I put together a caregiver notebook with information about my parents and instructions. For example, fairly early into her Alzheimer's, my mother became very random in her snacking. I starting buying fruit and nuts, and the caregiver was instructed to fill a snack bowl I put in a place my mother would likely go to first. My father wouldn't admit he was a fall risk in the shower, but he started allowing them to stay nearby when he discovered the joy of someone else drying his back. I shared how much my mother loves to be outside, pick flowers, and arrange them. So walks around the block with instructions to the caregiver of where to find vases went into the instructions.
2. I put together a "memory box", filled with small objects from trips, cards from friends, and postcards of favorite art. Sitting with the caregiver discussing what was in the box was something both parents and the caregiver greatly enjoyed.
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Reply to shedwells

When I had an agency help with my dad it was in their job description to do light housekeeping. I had them wash the bedding and change it, do some vacuuming, mop floors, clean the bathroom and fold laundry. My dad was suspicious of anyone who would hover around him so this way he thought I was just getting help with housework. I needed to be able to leave the house for shopping and some alone time each week so that worked out well for me. All I could afford was 4 hours a week. The caregiver gave him his lunch which I had pre-prepared too.
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Reply to Dizzerth

I did light housekeeping, read to my clients, did meal prep, shoot, I even washed windows somedays I was so bored! Laundry, running errands, with or w/o my client. Helping them with PT. Cleaning out closets. Cleaning out files ( if allowed)...You are there to be an extra set of hands, look for things to do and check first to see that it's OK then plunge in. A 6 hr shift with only 3 hours worth of work will seem endless!

Your first day will be a walk through of the home and getting to know the CG. Sometimes, even in a short period of time, you'll immediately know if your parents get along with the CG.
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Reply to Midkid58

Is there any way you can get the four hours split into twice a week for two hours each time? That will be better for everyone if you're not expecting the home/health aide to do any housekeeping. Having her there for four hours at a time can also put a strain on the parents too because they might be uncomfortable if she has nothing to do but sit there for that long. Break up the time if you can.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
NeedHelpWithMom Apr 12, 2021
This is a great idea. I would have liked to do that sometimes. It would have worked out best for us at certain times but no one would agree to come help for only two hour shifts. I think it was because some workers drove quite a distance. They don’t want to pay for extra gas. I had one caregiver ask me for gas money. I gave it to her because she said that she needed gas to make it home.
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Have her change bedding, dust, vacuum and clean bedroom/bathroom area your parents use. If they have different diet, food prep could be done to cover several days so all you have to do is pull out of freezer/frig and pop in the microwave. A couple loads of clothing/towels/etc generated from their bedroom can be done.

Avoid doing things in the areas your parents use so that help is primarily taking care of tasks you did not have before parents moved in. Laundry, deep cleaning of areas, meals would be the biggies that I can think of
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Reply to my2cents
Tootieboot Apr 15, 2021
HHA due not do deep cleaning ever. That's for a house cleaner to do.
WE had a plan that was NOT followed and that generated stress to the point our short term of having service was ended a couple weeks ahead of schedule and it was a RELIEF. Light housekeeping was in the plan, but yet when a note was left to do such tasks so that I got SOME relief, the caregiver (through an agency) obviously was not happy at all and preferred to sit on her a** doing a crossword or similar puzzle. So it depends on whether you have done a care plan with an agency or if you self-hired and need to generate your own plan. Do they need help with personal care or someone to stand by while they tend to their own needs? Light cleaning? (make sure your valuables/breakables are in a safe space, preferably a room with a lock). Regardless of whose paying, focus on your parents needs as well as your own to give yourself a break. Something the aide does is something you will NOT have to do in your "free" time. Or she can do something that assists your parents. Or if nothing else companionship or send her to go shopping with a list. We use gift cards for the preferred store so no funds have to exchange hands...not perfect but better than a credit card or other being handed over.
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Reply to gdaughter

Assisting with bathing/showers? Prep and serve a meal?
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Reply to cwillie

Consider 2 2hr appointments a week. The caregiver can help with meal or dressing and fall risk for toileting or play a game with them etc. Whatever hours you choose, You can also ask her to wash your parent's dishes or laundry or change and wash bedding. Perhaps she can ask your mom to help with folding and putting away clothes to engage her.
As a caregiver; I'm concerned when i go into homes that I'm nor confused with a housekeeper, so please realize keeping us busy can include time socializing with your loved ones with cards, tv, games, helping them do their exercises or look at photos. Splitting the shift would probably work best for a happy medium of chores versus companionship imo. Hope that helps.
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Reply to Jojo45

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