How can I stop my father from canceling more in-home care hours?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 91 year old mother and 99 year old stepfather still live at home with professional caregivers 16 hours a day. They had 24 hour care but my stepfather, against the wishes of the entire family, cancelled the night time shift for financial reasons, so he said. They do not have financial problems and have the ability to pay for the care. Now he is insisting on cutting another 4 hours a day out of the care without letting the family know or consulting with us. My mother needs the care due to a fall she is recovering from. He is physically unstable and it is unsafe for her to be too close to him for he could fall and take her with him. I have a strong relationship with the agency that provides the care. What can I do to stop him from cancelling more hours?

Expert Answers

Kay Paggi, GCM, LPC, CGC, MA, is in private practice as a geriatric care manager and is on the advisory board for the Emeritus Program at Richland College. She has worked with seniors for nearly 20 years as a licensed professional counselor, certified gerontological counselor, and certified geriatric care manager.

Legally, unless you are his Power of Attorney, you cannot prevent him from cancelling in home care. For him, companions in his home probably represent reminders that he is no longer manly and capable of being his own master, and able to care for himself and his wife. These are big parts of a man's self-esteem. He may perceive it as humiliating to need care and not be able to care for his wife.

You may have tried, but try again to sit with him and attempt to see the situation from his point of view. This is not much an exercise in logic, as one of emotion and self-confidence. You may try reverse guilt. This would be telling him how much you worry about them when there is not someone in the house, and that you fell better, are able to concentrate on your work better, when you are not worrying. So having companions is something he can do for you, even though he believes they are not necessary. Presenting it in this way may make it more acceptable, especially if you agree with him that it's not that he is unable, just that you are a worry wart.

Another thought is to persuade your mother to look at living in an assisted living where there is 24 hr assistance available. Probably if he believes that she would actually leave him in order to have care, he will allow the companions.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I would get your mom on your side, since it seems that she is the one who really needs the care. Make the appeal to your father that this is all about mom, not him. I know my mom after her hip surgery did not like having the 8 hour a day care givers "they just follow me around all day, asking me if they can help", but we also made sure that she understood that we ( my brother, sister &I) could not be there all day long and the care giver was there to make us feel better about her being in her house alone.

Marly26 answered...

You have to look at the whole picture. Is your provider doing more than he/she should and not allowing your father to live independently. They have to have the independence that they feel they can do without harming themselves. I realize that they are both elderly but its amazing at just how much they can actually do on their own. Your father as well may feel as though he is being intruded upon. Perhaps speak to your provider and ask just what he/she is doing for the two of them. Ask her if she can allow for some independnce in the home so your father is not feeling overwhelmed. If as you say are close to the Agency then dont' hesitate to contqct them and let them know that you feel that these hours are needed and perhaps they can come out and see just how independent your parents can be. Maybe they could cut back a few hrs. or perhaps just leave the two of them together privately. Sometimes its good to step back somewhat. Perhaps sitting in the kitchen reading a book so that she/he is not right there at each step they take. I myself had two wonderful clients who were up in their nineties. I would prepare the dinner, allow the two to sit and watch the news while I tidied up and then just sat with a book or went out onto the balcony to give them some quiet time which they were so thankful for. They as well were getting 24/7 care. However again, they so much needed their privacy and thanked me many times over. So as I say, speak with their Provider, see if shes' right there all of the time. You have to think of yourself as well, would you want someone looking over your shoulders' 24/7. I know I wouldn't. If the home is big enough for him/her to go elsewhere in the home but be within earshot that is fine. After living alone together for so long and appreciating each others' company they need not have someone sitting between them doing everythig that they were so used to do on their own. Even watching the news alone, as though nobody was there. Remember they have to have independence as well as Activity of Daily living. Speak with the Access Ctr. and again speak with the Caregiver. Ask him/her if she allows for them to be alone for part of the time. This is crucial for their relationship together. I am sending prayers and hope I coud be of some assistance to you as a Caregiver myself. Just a few words of wisdom. Good Luck!!