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Here's the situation... my 81 year old mother needs a caregiver for some basic cleaning and possibly personal care. Everyone else can see (and smell) that she needs this help but she has fought me on it for 6 months. She has finally agreed but insists that she won't tolerate anyone who is black.

It embarrasses me to even bring it up to an agency, but I know if a black person shows up, she will fire the person and the agency on the spot - and it will be another six months of arguing with her that she needs help.

Can she or the agency discriminate like this?

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One house my mother lived in the next door neighbour was black, had never spoken to him but she hated him. Come the winter he shoveled the snow off her driveway and he was instantly a prince. She couldn't care if anyone was black, white or green with pink spots as long as there was something in it for her and it was free. One day her house was egged and it wasn't even halloween so I guess she pissed off a lot of people, as she did everywhere she went.

Racism was the norm in their era. These days kids of all colours, races and cultures go to school together, accepting whoever as a friend, which is so much healthier.
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Don't indulge that. Boundaries now.

My mother was spitting fire adamant that no non-white person would ever help her. Ever! She was from the rural south in the 1940s-50s during the hey day of the KKK and pure white rhetoric at school, church, and home. She was raised to believe that every black man on this planet was out to rape her at the first chance they might get. Black women would steal her blind. Never mind that had never actually occurred to her or anybody she ever knew or read about.

WELL....Miss Daisy doesn't always get her way.
When push came to shove and she had to let a great big black man wipe her butt. I felt sorry for HIM. Momma ranted for days about him getting to see her undercarriage. I laughed out loud and long at her. "Getting to!" don't you mean "Having to!" see one as old and tired as yours is no day at the park mom.

I told her that it doesn't matter if somebody has plaid skin with polka dots and day-glo antlers if they are willing and qualified then they are going to help and she's going to keep her fool mouth shut to let them. "There is not exactly a line of family or relatives lining up to wash your behind now is there? You have to take help where it comes. Red, yellow, black, white, pink, purple, green, whatever."

That was 2+ years ago. All her caretakers now are from Africa, many from Liberia who fled horrendous war and unspeakable atrocities. They didn't know they were "black" until they got here and heard it from a bunch of shriveled up demanding old white women. How insulting.

I had a really bad day one time and told mom to just stick that nonsense of hers where the sun don't shine. This is not anybody's idea of a dream job, to come in here and deal with you and your mouth or your fanny. Especially after what a lot of the attendants had already been through. She actually has calmed down with a lot of her racist b.s.

It had everything in the world to do with the adjustment of her anti-psychotic meds. I think she's had more day to day interaction with non-white people in the past 2 years than she had in the 76 years prior.

There will be many other things on this journey that momma won't like and it does not matter one whit. You have to do what you must to keep her safe and clean and what color somebody is, is simply not a choice on the table at this point.
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I would suggest talking with the agency - you need to explain what they'll be dealing with - they probably will have suggestions.
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While my mother wasn't a very open minded person to start by the 1980's she had evolved enough to even accept my mixed race boyfriend - and neither mix was white so she had come a long way. Thank God as one of her very best caregivers as a lovely middle aged African American woman. In my opinion she was the best of the dozen or so we've had over the years. Smart, knowledgable of caregiving and seniors well beyond her pay grade and she didn't take one ounce of the crap my mom dished out - mom loved her too!
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When I worked in Long Term Care, the resident had the right to ask for female only Aid, or white only Aid. I would think the Agency would grant your request. I'm sure the agency understands that the people in their care are from a different era than we are.
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She can request anything she wants, even hair color. However there are very few and far between young white people willing to do the work. So she will have no help at all for a long time.
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A dear lady in assisted living with dementia did not want certain aides to help her. This was surprising, since she was interested in various places in the world and requested that some of the aides give a little panel discussion about where they were from. In her case not wanting certain aides turned out to be about the inability to understand them. Many residents are hard of hearing, and have trouble processing what they hear. In Minnesota, an aide from Alabama might be as hard to understand as one from India.

In touring a nursing home for my mother, I asked if all the aides spoke English. Of course! was the answer. It is a requirement. But then in an aside the tour guide admitted that she often couldn't understand them herself.

I am most definitely NOT anti-immigrant! But in some jobs clear understandable English is more important than in others, and I think in working with the elderly and impaired it is critical!
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My Mom didn't like anyone who wasn't just like her [race, culture, religion, and even weight]. Whew, she was snarly at caregivers who came into the house.

But then even when the caregivers were more similar to herself, she wasn't user friendly.... thus for her it became pride, that she wanted every ounce of independence to manage her own household and she would die trying. And she did.... [sigh]
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We did exactly that. Requested exactly what appearance would work best for my Mom. It is a very common request, there was so much discrimation and prejudice when our folks were kids. And dementia takes them back to a time when it was commonplace. Before we started regular weekly caregiving, and I knew NOTHING, a black caregiver was sent. This did not go at all well. My mom thought she was a thief, physically tried to throw her out of the house and was trying to call 911.

Request exactly what appearance will work best for your mom. If the first agency you call cannot fill the bill call another. It is about what will make mom most comfortable.
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And make sure you notify the authorities to tell them someone with dementia lives at the address. If mom can use the phone you would not want her calling 911 and them responding thinking something was terribly wrong at the house.
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