To correct or not to correct?

When dealing with home health aides don’t be afraid to give effective feedback. We all can benefit from constructive direction. However, I believe how that direction is delivered affects how it will be received and the eventual outcome. When you witness a situation that is not what you expect, the best thing to do is to confront it head on. Confrontation is something that I don’t usually like to do.  I often don’t like having to approach someone about their performance, especially if they know what their responsibilities are.  Sometimes if you don’t say anything, just expect that it will probably never get done.  You as the caregiver will end up holding on to these things and it will build up inside of you and the next minor thing that happens may set you off. If you do go off, just know that a really uncomfortable situation will arise.  Be mindful of the human nature of some individuals. You don’t want anyone to feel as though they have to act out toward you or your loved ones in a spiteful manner. Approaching someone with a level of mutual respect while asserting and exercising your authority goes a long way and can make a situation easier to deal with. I’ve found that it is better to deal with the problem in that moment and then move on. To ease the likelihood for any tension, consider approaching the confrontation in a diplomatic way.

The main thing is to realize that everyone has their own way of handling situations and doing things. The task may not get done exactly how you would do it.  You will, however, have to let some things go. As long as the aide is taking good care of your loved one, the best thing to do is to allow room for a compromise.

Different Types of Aides

I’ve had experience dealing with a variety of aides over the past couple of years. I now realize that common sense is not so common and it’s something that I’ve taken for granted.   I find that people have been exposed to different things and have different experience levels.

After interacting with quite a few aides, I have found that many fall within these categories:

1. “ I really just don’t know.”  – This person just arrived here from someplace else so they are not familiar with the customs and the things that are available here.

2.  “They are just really that dense.” – In this situation some people just need to be told what to do at every instant. This is fine if you like to micromanage; however it’s not ideal if you can’t be around to supervise every moment.

3. “They are just lazy.” – This person doesn’t want to do what’s asked of them so they pretend that they don’t understand or do much and they slack off and wait for you to say something to them. However, we all know that they’ve been trained to do the basic personal and household care for the patient and know to refer to the ever popular “care plan” provided by the visiting nurse from the Agency.

4.  “The good worker.” – They are willing to work hard and operate from the heart by paying attention to what the patient needs and operate as they would do for themselves in their own home. There may be some additional training needed here, but once they get on a regular routine they do just fine and some will go the extra mile for the patient.

I have found that the best way to deal with an aide coming to work in your home is to assess the situation at hand and have a guide and/or outline, if not written, in your mind of how you want things run in your home while you are there and especially when you aren’t able to be around.

Keys to a happier and more productive household:

If this aide will be permanently around, it’s best to outline the guidelines for your home and share your expectations upfront. Basically go through a few things and lay out the duties and responsibilities with the aide. Even if they do know what to do, don’t assume, I recommend that you still review these things to ensure that you are setting the stage and the expectation. If there is something that you don’t like that’s being done, I would advise that you provide constructive feedback by offering some praise such as you do such a great job with this and that etc., but I would like you to do xyz going forward. Give a solution or a suggestion that doesn’t tear down the person or make them feel like they did something terribly wrong, unless they did commit a major faux pas (in which case you need to contact the agency immediately.) I learned this technique from my Toastmasters club. It’s called the sandwich approach and it works well in a variety of situations.

As I’ve been dealing with this process, I’ve found that being straight forward and direct generally works.  I often try to approach things in a diplomatic way and try to share information along with a smile. I do not want to be a micromanager, because I feel that the aide knows duties and there shouldn’t be a need for me hover over them asking if they did this or that or took care of something. I’m also not opposed to providing friendly reminders for key things that are important. Sometimes that may need to be done until there is an established routine.

Are there any experiences that you’ve encountered? Please share your thoughts and tips.

Developing Resilience

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” – George S. Patton

Have you ever felt that your life is not your own? Are you constantly doing or being called to do something for someone else? Sometimes I feel like I want to change my name and assume an anonymous alias. Do you sometimes feel like you can’t catch a break and are always in the middle of some challenge just waiting for it to plateau… however, when you turn around there is something else you have to contend with? If these questions seem to fit you and you can answer any of them with a resounding “Yes!”…you must be a caregiver on the verge of burn out.

Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed myself. I am feeling tired of having this responsibility and I just want to put all of this aside. I try to maintain a positive attitude. However, when faced with a grouchy sick person who has otherwise been for the most part reasonable to get along with, turn around and flip the script and act with the most unpleasant behavior and attitude toward you and others………… you start to question a few things. Why am I doing this? Why do I have to put up with this? Why is God allowing this to happen? How can I continue to deal with this and move forward with the things that I want for my life? Will I be able to pursue what I want?

I was caught in one of these moments in the past week. My father decided to be angry with everyone – himself, me, my mother, and the aide. His behavior was inexcusable. There’s nothing like trying to remain pleasant with someone who is being stubborn and refuses to listen to reason. As for me, I tried to reason with the irrational. At that point, an otherwise reasonable man was facing a pivotal point in his life – the thought or realization that he may never walk again on his own and will probably always need someone’s help.

 At that moment, my Dad’s ability to be rational was severely compromised because his independence is slowly, “yet rapidly”, in his mind escaping him. My thought is why be mad at the world? Why be mad at me? I have endured so much with you…advocating on his behalf by talking to doctors, nurses, and all kinds of medical staff – so much so that I can say that I’ve been through a mini medical school boot camp. What did I do to you to be on the receiving end of this dialogue of dissatisfaction? I didn’t make you sick or cause certain things to go “wrong” with you.

I must stop here…..because I realize it’s not about me. It’s not even about what he said or what’s going on and how he even got there. I began to absorb his negative energy and started wondering what’s in it for me and how can I still pursue my goals.

One of the ways to develop a level of resiliency is to have something else to focus on. Have you buried a dream because  you don’t have the time to pursue it? One of my passions is writing and one of the reasons for starting this blog. Experts say write about what you know. This blog helps me to express myself through one of my passions!

I want you to remember that, whether or not you are a caregiver, having balance in your life is key and it is especially important to carve out some time for yourself. Do you have any desires and passions that lay dormant? These things can serve as an outlet and give you something else to focus on besides the person’s ailment and all the responsibility that comes along with being a caregiver. Pursue them!  You are feeding your spirit which will give you more energy to fulfill your dreams and desires along with your caregiving responsibilities. I recommend that you don’t forget about yourself during this time and process.

Joel Osteen said, “One way to tell if a dream is really from God is that the desire won’t go away. You may have had it for years, but you still can’t let it go. In fact, you may have tried to let it go, but it won’t let go of you.” I encourage you to reach out and search your heart for those dreams and desires that reside within you. These desires are there for a purpose and it is a disservice to yourself and others if you don’t pursue them.  This is how you bounce back. This is how you become resilient. This is how you can gain energy to keep going.

What have you done that helps you to bounce back? Are there dreams and desires that you’ve let go? Please share your thoughts.