The search for a caregiver, whether hiring through an agency or privately, can be an intimidating process. You are sharing personal information with people new to your life and opening your home to a stranger. Once your questions are answered and decisions are made, is there anything you can do to prepare for the day the caregiver arrives? Here are some things to consider:

Should I supply food for the caregiver?
Yes and no. If you have a live-in caregiver, we recommend keeping the basics in good supply – eggs, bread, milk and bottled water. The caregiver should be responsible for any particular food items they prefer. If the caregiver comes daily, they should bring their own lunch.

How do breaks work?
Caregivers are entitled to breaks, as with any other employee. But many times a caregiver isn’t working a traditional day. So what then? Part of the caregiver’s responsibility is to reinforce healthy routines. This means eating meals at relatively the same time each day as well as waking up and going to bed on a regular schedule. So the best way to manage a caregiver’s breaks is to coordinate his/her day with the routine of the day. When your loved one is eating, the caregiver can take that time to eat as well. A good time for the caregiver to enjoy some down time is when your loved one is napping.

Seasonal Concerns
You want to do everything you can to minimize interruptions to your loved one’s and caregiver’s routines and to keep them safe. Each season brings its own concerns. For example, in the fall and winter months, arrange for someone to clear the walkways and driveway, in advance of the caregiver’s arrival. The last thing you want is for anyone to slip and fall on ice or snow, or hurt their backs shoveling or raking. In the spring, when the rain is in full swing and temperatures tend to fluctuate widely, it can be a challenge to stay warm and dry to prevent unnecessary sickness. And we all know summer months require extra hydration and cooling.

Building Trust and Confidence:
Building trust in your caregiver is a process that takes time and mutual respect. It won’t happen overnight, but the time to get started is on day one. An agency can help by facilitating the introduction personally. A familiar face from the office is a comfort, and can assure your caregiver is given a proper orientation to your needs from the start. For some families, it could mean completing tasks along with the caregiver for the first few days. Bonding activities could include making the bed together, preparing a meal or folding laundry. After some time, whether in a day or a week, it is important to allow the caregiver to help. Putting your trust in a caregiver should not seem like an additional task. It is meant to help you take care of yourself and loved one better.

Routine Management:
Taking advantage of the time you have the caregiver is important. Depending on the type of care, whether for a few hours over several days or live-in care, it is always a good idea to put a schedule in place. Schedule appointments on the days the caregiver is working. Take this free time to visit with friends and family, meet with a local support group, or go to the gym. Make weekly routines, like housework and grocery shopping, automatic in order to avoid confusion and last minute stress. You will appreciate the caregiver more when you are able to take time for yourself or spend quality time with your loved one, instead of worrying about daily chores.

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April Dabrowski is the Client Relationship Manager at FirstLight HomeCare of Westchester. FirstLight is a NY State Licensed Homecare Services Agency and can be reached at 914-215-1915.