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    Getting Help from Other Caregivers


    Consider using one of the many concealed video "nanny cams" that are on the market.

    Make sure caregivers understand your instructions. Don't just write them on notes; discuss them as well to make sure the instructions are clear and to determine agreement.

    If you are supposed to relieve a caregiver and you're running late, always notify her. Have a backup plan in case this happens. Remember that the caregiver has a life and possibly a family, too.

    Make out (private) "report cards" for each of the caregivers you hire so you can refer to these later if you need them. If there's something a caregiver does especially well, note that. Keep notes on the objections you had to prospective caregivers you didn't hire.

    Have regular meetings with all caregiving staff. If there is more than one caregiver, you'll be better off if they know one another and can communicate, especially when there are scheduling problems. Now and then, try to extend the hours of one or another so that they overlap. They might have a lot to teach each other.

    Make sure your father is familiar with anyone who will take care of him. Dad should always have a say in who cares for him. Remember that caregiving can be a very intimate process. It will all go best if you agree up front on the personnel involved, to the extent that that's possible. At a minimum, introduce caregivers to Dad before they actually begin work.

    During the holidays, remember any paid caregivers (nursing home aides, day care workers, shuttle drivers, for example) who help make your loved one's life better. Make sure that your gifts are thoughtful.

    Let caregivers see photos of your parent in earlier days. Caregivers and others will more easily connect with her if they are reminded of the vitality she once had.

    "A year after cousin Pauline was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Maureen came to live with her and Joe, Pauline's husband. Maureen was a dedicated, caring professional, but Joe is not the easiest person to live with -- he tends to withdraw and then appears hostile even if he's not. We were afraid we'd lose Maureen, and she was a real gem. One day, I went over there for dinner and I got Joe to take out photos of Pauline back when we all went on vacations together and Pauline would win every swimming race we ever had. Maureen was touched that Joe was sharing these with her and surprised when he started going on and on about the old days -- talking a mile a minute, saying more to her than he had in all the weeks she'd been working there. Things were a little different after that. For one thing, I think Maureen looked at Pauline with a new kind of respect. She also was a lot more understanding of just how much of a vivacious, energetic person Joe was missing."
    -Beth Castigano

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