Finally, the choice has been made from among several senior home care providers, and it is time for the new caregiver to start. In order to prepare and make sure everything is in order so that nothing is overlooked, there are several aspects of care to review with the new caregiver. Before the new caregiver arrives, it may be advisable to make up a written checklist – with a copy for the family member and a copy for the professional caregiver – so that nothing is left to chance due to miscommunication.
Food and Drink: Make sure to note any foods a senior should not have due to allergies, conflicts with medications, or to maintain their gastrointestinal health. Also let the caregiver know foods a senior particularly likes or dislikes. Give special instructions, for example, if certain foods or drinks, such as those containing caffeine, should be avoided late in the day because they interfere with a senior’s sleep. If the senior will prepare his or her own food, what aspects of preparation are they are likely to need assistance with, or will meals need to be prepared entirely by the caregiver? If the senior needs help feeding him or herself, does that mean cutting the food into small pieces or actually helping get the food in his or her mouth? Does the senior have a preference on meal times – a late breakfast or an early dinner, for example?
Cleaning and daily tasks: Does the senior need help tidying up, making the bed or doing the laundry? Should the senior be encouraged to do these things on his or her own, or does the caregiver really need to take the lead?
Sleep: Will the senior sleep or rest while the caregiver is there? If naps are taken, where and when do they occur? Are there any special things that should be done to help get the senior ready to sleep?
Bathroom and hygiene assistance: What type of assistance does the senior need to use the restroom, or does he or she remain independent? Types of assistance needed may include help with getting on or off the toilet, removing clothes, wiping, washing hands, etc. Will the caregiver assist with bathing? Detailed instructions should be included.
Medications: Instructions should be left for all medications which include the times they are to be taken, along with dosing instructions and any special instructions such as whether they take them with juice or water, etc. Since many senior home care providers cannot actually administer medications, make sure they are accessible and understood by the senior as much as possible. In order to avoid any miscommunication, make sure to confirm what the senior home care providers will and will not be able to assist with in terms of medications, clarifying if they can only assist with reminding the senior that it’s time to take the medications or if they can fully administer them. In addition, senior home care providers should be made aware of any foods, drinks or other medications that the senior should not have in conjunction with a medication. For example, a senior on thyroid medication may need to avoid soy, walnuts and other foods within several hours of taking certain medications.
Home details and activities: What temperature should the house be kept at during the time they are there? Does the senior like the windows open? Will he or she want a blanket when sitting? Does the senior like to watch TV or movies, play board games or cards, or read books or newspapers? What are his or her preferences for types of movies, games, cards or reading materials? Does the senior have a daily routine that is important, like reading the newspaper over breakfast or a TV program that cannot be missed? Does the senior prefer to talk, or to be left alone? Are there any indoor exercises that the senior does, or should be encouraged to be doing?
Outside activities: Does the senior like to venture outside to go for a walk, to work in the garden, or to take a car ride? What types of places might he or she want to go – parks, stores, museums – and should particularly outings be encouraged or discouraged? Does the senior walk independently or need to be reminded to use a cane or walker when going out of the house? Are there any special things the senior needs to be reminded about when going out, like using a jacket, putting on sunscreen or taking snacks or water to assist with any medical conditions? Is getting regular exercise or increasing physical activity one of the goals the family member has by bringing senior home care providers into their home?
Contacts: Leave a list with the names, phone numbers, availability and relationship of people the senior or their caregiver can contact to answer a question the senior cannot, in case of emergency or for social calls or visits. Also include contact information for all doctors and other health care professionals.