When elderly parents need assistance with physical care, home health care may be the perfect solution.
A skilled caregiver can help with homemaking and transportation as well as provide valuable companionship and assist with activities of daily living like bathing and dressing.
As a concerned son or daughter, that will be a relief, but before the relationship between a home health care provider and parents grow, it is important to discuss expectations and clarify needs to help the caregiver navigate sensitive personal boundaries. One of the most critical is communication.
If aging parents have physical or cognitive limitations that affect their ability to answer their home or cell phone, a home care assistant can help, but it’s also essential to respect parents’ need for independence when considering how communication should be handled.
Consider these questions carefully before making a decision:
- Are parents able to hear effectively over the telephone? Being unable to identify voices or hear conversation clearly is both frustrating and worrisome for seniors.
- Do they have mobility or visual challenges that make answering a ringing phone difficult or hazardous? A parent who needs physical care can trip and fall while hurrying to answer a call.
- Can they understand and remember important information from medical providers and financial institutions?
- Are they vulnerable to unscrupulous telemarketers and scams that target the elderly?
- Do they feel comfortable allowing someone else to handle their calls? Will they trust a home care assistant or will it make them suspicious?
Be clear with the Caregiver about boundaries
There is a wide range of effective options for managing communication that can include parents, families and home health providers.
However, before asking a caregiver to answer the phone, be clear about the following:
- How should he or she introduce themselves when answering the phone?
- How should calls of a personal nature from physicians and friends be handled?
- Should he or she answer only the home phone or also a personal cell phone?
- To whom should urgent messages be given?
- Which calls should be given to parents or should they receive calls at all?
Is the senior reluctant to allow the Caregiver to answer their phone?
Sometimes elderly parents are reluctant to turn the reins of communication over entirely.
If this is the case for your senior, but they still need assistance, try these strategies:
- Ask friends to call a private cell phone, but allow an assistant to answer the home phone for convenience.
- Use an answering machine to take all calls for further review, or use it to screen calls and specify which callers an assistant should answer and which he or she should notify a responsible family member about.
- Have parents and caregivers listen to recorded calls together and decide how to handle them.
Does the senior suffer from Cognitively Impaired hearing?
If the sound of a ringing phone causes emotional upset for a cognitively impaired parent, take these measures to decrease the number of calls received:
- Add both home and cellular numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Ask family and friends to limit calls to times when parents are at their best.
- Arrange to receive the most important calls personally. Call forwarding services can automatically send calls from specific numbers to an alternate phone.
A trusting relationship with a home care provider helps seniors feel comfortable and safe in familiar surroundings and gives family peace of mind. Support that healthy bond by clarifying the basic boundaries of communication.