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

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 13, 2016
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 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.

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.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Community Answers

Sho b answered...

Hi Gerryv, Thanks for posting your caregiving question in our community. In addition to Kay's suggestions, you may find the following resources from Caring.com to be helpful for your situation:

We hope this information is helpful for you and your family. You're not alone!

Ann cason answered...

In additionn to the above. Sometimes in independent living residences there are others who need help twice a day and don't really need 4 hours at a time. You may be able to find a caregiver who would split your mothers care with another resident. So much depends on your mother's preferred schedule and bio rhythms as well as what is available in her residence. If she sleeps late and can get her own bowl of cereal for breakfast, a caregiver could come at 10 help her with morning routines and then get her down for lunch, if lunch is offered. The caregiver could also facilitate helping your mother to re-connect with other older people where she lives. Sometimes people eat at the same table for each meal. Sometimes the single people are placed together and other variations. The more connected your mother is to her residence, the less outside care will be needed.
Many senior residences have a rhythm of life that isn't apparent as care until you beging to see it. Lately, I was at one where the elders gathered around the ice cream machine at 4:00. But some residences don't offer meals or relationships with agencies. I suggest that you go through your mother's day hour by hour and see how she spends her time. Does she nap? Does she watch televison at certain hours? Does she watch for the mail? How does she sleep at night? Is she apt to get up and wander? Does the residence have someone sitting up awake at the front desk all night. Or could she get out?
Your dear mother will surely need more help later, so it is good to conserve now as much as you safely can. To keep her independent as long as possible, find out where she succeeds and feels good and gets by, Support those strengths with home care options, that might be needed 24/7, but can't be afforded.