A professional in-home caregiver can play a vital role in the lives of the seniors they care for. Not only do they need the training and experience to meet the senior’s physical needs, but they must be able to develop a strong relationship with the senior.

Preparing for an In-Home Caregiver

Establish requirements and expectations

Seniors and/or family members should write down what they expect before hiring a caregiver. Keep in mind that the in-home caregiver may have his or her own requirements. A clear understanding will avoid problems later on. However, even when the caregiver has been hired, keep the lines of communication open and make adjustments.

Share stories about your loved one

Family members can share stories about their loved one that will foster relationship-building conversations between the in-home caregiver and senior. If the senior is experiencing cognitive decline, they may have difficulty talking about their remembrances of what is being shared, but they will still have a connection to those memories that the caregiver needs to understand.

Family members should also make an effort to learn about their caregiver. It could be casually asking about their family, hobbies, or favorite TV shows.

Talk about preferences

The caregiver will need to know the senior’s personal habits. Where do they like to eat in the house? How does the senior like his or her eggs?  What TV programs do they watch? What music do they listen to? How do they go about their morning routine?

Seniors have maintained their home and way of life for years. They have specific ways of doing things. A caregiver may not perform household chores in the same manner; therefore, having a caregiver in the home is quite an adjustment for most seniors. Find common ground, compromise, and consider what is best for everyone.

Keep communicating

Relationships need continuous attention and open communication. This involves not only telling the in-home caregiver what he or she is doing well, but what needs to be changed. For family members who live some distance from the senior, staying in touch with a caregiver may be the best source of information they have about their loved one.

Behaviors That Hurt Relationships

People communicate with each other in many different ways; what they say, how and when they say it, and with body language. Often, we do not realize that we are saying a lot about someone else by things such as:

  • Eye rolling
  • Sighing loudly
  • Not paying attention to the other person
  • Using a condescending or patronizing tone
  • Being unresponsive

When interacting with the caregiver, give them your full attention. Don’t look around the room, check your watch, or stop to read a text. Listen to the other person. Show you are engaged.

Demonstrate a genuine interest in the other person. Caregivers are people, and people respond well to others who treat them as such. Seniors and family members should express to the caregiver the value he or she brings to the home.

Practice Patience

Caregiving is a tremendous responsibility and a constant learning experience. The vast majority of caregivers are deeply committed to the people they care for. But building a strong relationship does not happen in a day. Patience is a virtue that can establish bonds between people. It provides the time to see things in a more positive light, and can bring us to better understanding of each other.

For more tips on creating rewarding relationships, visit Bethesda’s assisted living blog.