What are shift options for 24/7 caregiving for mom?

Gerryv asked...

Mom has moderate Alzhiemers (recoginizes us) however, has zero short term memory (duration of 5 minutes). Up until last Dec (2012) she lived in an independent senior's residence and to a large extent very social and mobile (no walker required). She is 87. However, in Dec she suffered a hematoma and a minor stroke. Mobility is back (walking well) but vision impaired and memory even worse. She will not need 24/7 support to be with her (bathroom, reminder her to eat, stumulate conversation etc.). As look for this care in her residence, what shifts are reasonable and what are the typical time slots? How do we manage weekends? Time off? Rotation of care to avoid fatigue. Family will step in each day for a few hours. Interested in how best to create shifts for caregivers and how it is paid? (Hourly would be so expensive)

Expert Answer

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.

Your mother is fortunate to have a supportive extended family. Good for you! Mom may need only a few shifts to help her through the more difficult times of day. Most companion agencies work in 4-hour shifts, so a morning shift to help her bathe, dress, and get to breakfast is a good start. Then another in the later afternoon to reverse the process, eat dinner, brush teeth, undress and get to bed. She may not need someone overnight but be sure that there is a bright night light on, and that she understands how to use an emergency response unit.

I rarely recommend private sitters. They may appear attractive initially because a person working for themselves is cheaper than an agency. However, in the long run, it is a dangerous decision unless you are able to do a very thorough background screen and are able to find someone to substitute if the private companion is ill. Another advantage is that an agency that you use regularly will be able to cover weekends and holidays, and pay withholding taxes.

Remember that your mother probably has vascular dementia, caused by small strokes, so expect another one and be ready to adapt your plan of care as needed.

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