Family caregivers need to be cautious when handling body fluids of relatives in their care.
How To Protect Yourself While Caring for a Relative
In training to become personal care aides or certified nursing assistants, we are taught to practice standard precaution in preventing the spread of infection. Here are a few tips on how to keep safe while caring for relatives who may have an infectious disease.
Infection is spread through germs, tiny living things that are all around us. The Zika Virus is a germ that is spread through a mosquito bite or by coming in contact with body fluids of someone who has been infected with the virus.
Body fluids include blood, saliva, vaginal discharge or feces. You cannot tell if someone has a virus by looking at him because some people do not have any symptoms and they may not appear to be sick. That is why you need to protect yourself with standard precaution.
Keep in mind that some people are more likely to get sick from germs than others. This can happen if you are stressed out, or have another medical condition.
Tips to get Rid of germs
Wash your hands: Washing your hands is the most effective way to prevent infections from spreading. You should wash your hands before and after you touch your relative and if you touch a surface that could have germs on it.
You should wash your hands before touching or preparing food, after changing bed linens and handling dirty laundry.
Wear gloves and aprons. You should wear gloves whenever you assist with personal care. These include bathing and toileting. Wear gloves to clean up vomit, urine or feces. You should also wear gloves when you provide mouth care like brushing teeth or wipe gums.
Wear a mask if your relative is sneezing and coughing. This might appear a little extreme but you have to protect yourself from becoming ill also.
If saliva gets into your eyes you should wash it immediately with clean running water.
Clean up germs quickly with the right cleaning products. Wash clothes, dishes, sheets and towels with hot water and detergent.
Use bleach and water to clean up spilled body fluids, toilets, bathroom and kitchen surfaces.
It is impossible to remove all germs from your surroundings but if you follow these suggestions you may be able to protect yourself from becoming ill.
If you do not feel well ask someone to help out while you go to the doctor.
Some infections like Zika virus will get better on their own but the United States Department of Health recommends that if you have another health condition or elderly, then you should see your doctor if you do not feel well after coming in contact with the virus.
Many of us face the dilemma of having elderly parents who won’t accept help. Your elderly parents are sometimes the last persons to admit that they need help from a professional caregiver.
Jill’s mom, who has heart disease, is in her 80’s and she is the main caregiver for Jill’s dad who has dementia and COPD. All the siblings try to help out. Each taking turns few days each week and alternating visits to the doctor. The arrangement is sometimes frustrating and taxing on their energy and time but their Mom does not even want to talk about getting help from a home care assistant.
If your situation is like Jill’s here are some things you can do to let your parents know that they need help.
4 Tips to help you convince your elderly parents that they need help
1. Try to understand why your parents do not think they need help. Ask them. Many people are wary of strangers coming into their homes. Your mom may feel uncomfortable about losing control over her privacy by having a stranger go through her personal stuff.
They may also reject the offer of outside help because they think they just cannot afford it. This is where you have to do your homework, including information about how the help will be paid for. Are there government programs that your parents qualify for? It could be a matter of them not knowing what are their options.
If you and your siblings are going to pay for help, they might also think that they would become a financial burden to you. Reassure them that this in no way makes them a burden and it would make you happy if you knew they had the help they needed.
2. If Number 1 fails, Talk to their doctor about the situation. He can assess your concerns and write an order for a home health nurse to visit your parents at home to further assess if your concerns are legitimate. Once their doctor signs off on it, let your parents know that getting help is a requirement for them to stay healthy and safe in their own home. Many elderly people will take this seriously because they dread the thought of being removed from their homes.
3. Stop enabling them. All the adult children need to work together for this plan to work. It’s hard for mom and Dad to see that they need help if you are always there waiting on them hands and feet. If you keep doing things for them beyond the ordinary drop in to check on them they will never see the need for outside help.
Take a few days off from doing any chores for them, and stop by briefly each day or week but ask the neighbors to give an eye for you. Call them every day to check on them.
In the meantime get to know a caregiver from an agency. Find out about schedules and fees and other important information.
Before long the chores will pile up, and your elderly parents will ask you for help. This is the time to say ‘sorry I can’t come over this week but I have the number of a home care assistant that I can call to help’.
Tell your mom you will bring her over after work to show her around then end the conversation.
4. Be firm about why they need to hire a caregiver. Let them know that you are doing this because you care about them and you are trying to avoid a medical crisis like a fall because your 90-year-old mom thought she could reach a can of peas on the top shelf by standing on a chair.
In the end, you have to make the decision for them. At first, they won’t like it and they will find fault with the home care aide. After a few days or weeks they will see that the house is clean, meals are cooked, meds are taken and baths are warm. And then they will calm down and thank you for not giving up.
Caregiver alarms and alert systems for seniors are available in all different sizes shapes and prices . An alert system can let you know if your client is getting up out of bed, essential if they have a risk of falling. You simply cannot be in the same room at all times especially when you have other chores to do.
Amazon.com has a huge number of caregiver alarm systems and you’ll find that the search can be very time-consuming and unproductive if you don’t exactly know what you’re looking for, so I have research 5 caregiver alarms and alert systems that you may find useful.
Secure Wireless Slimline Pager One Call Button Nurse Alert System – Patient Call Button & Caregiver Personal Pager
Number one Secure Wireless Slimline pager one call Button nurse well this product is described as being compact with extra bright light bright LED visual indicator. This secure call Button alert system for patient and caregiver is simple to use and provides peace-of-mind. Can be used as an alert alarm for elderly or disabled to quickly and easily call for help. All the person has to do is simply click or press the call button to alert the caregiver by the wireless receiver.
I like this product mostly because of the price. The price is below $20 and something like this usually sells for much more.
Another thing I like about it is that it can be worn as a pendant, carried in the pockets, or placed at the bedside. It’s also water-resistant which means it can be used even in the tub you don’t have to remove it.
It can also be wall-mounted or placed near the caregiver or carried in a pocket.
This caregiver alert system uses regular batteries although the batteries are not included you’d have to purchase them separately but are sold on Amazon. You get a one-year full replacement guarantee. the link to this product you can click here to view it
Philips Lifeline AutoAlert Medical Alert Help Button
2. The next caregiver alarms system on the list is the Philips Lifeline auto alert medical alert help monitor. Now this is the one I saw on TV being advertised and many Healthcare professionals do recommend this and I was happy to see that it was being sold on Amazon.
The thing I like about this one is that because it not only is a call button but provides fast access to 24 hours help with Lifeline.
Lifeline is a medical alert service that helps seniors or persons with disabilities who live alone with getting help quickly in an emergency.
Lifeline calls emergency services with just the touch of a button also has fall detection technology which alerts the call center in case seniors have a life threatening fall.
This service might not be necessary if you have access to a 24-hour live-in caregiver who will always be there. But for independent persons who are living alone without the help of caregivers.
On the other hand the fact that it links to medical alert service means that if you are with your client in an emergency situation and you cannot get close to the phone right away or because you don’t want to leave them then at least you know that they with the push of a button on their Life Alert you can notify Emergency Services.
What I don’t like is that is the subscription service the regular cost is about $44.95 a month for this for this service. You get a discount which is negligible to me because the discount is about a dollar so you get it at $42.95 if you buy it on amazon.
There is no activation fee and long-term contract. It also requires the at home communicator device which is shipped directly by Phillips within the activated month of service.
Philips Lifeline Standard Medical Alert Help Button
3. You could also try the slightly cheaper Philips Lifeline standard medical alert button, which does the same thing. It provides access to help with Lifeline however its monthly subscription is $29.95 +.
The biggest difference between the Philips auto alert and Philips Lifeline standard button is that the Phillips standard button does not have fall detection so it will not automatically detect a fall, you would have to manually press the button.
My Favorite Caregiver Alarms For Seniors –
Caregiver Pager Home Alert Buzzer System LLR-10 – 2 Wireless Help Buttons Included with 32 Melody/alarm sounds to choose from. Home Patient Call Alert Pager
This caregiver home alert buzzer system is my favorite by far.
I read the story of a 29-year-old epileptic, his girlfriend bought this alarm so that when he is some when he feels a seizure coming on he just simply presses the button and it gives off a loud sound so that she knows that is sick and will be there right in time to help him.
It is called the caregiver pager full alert buzzer system.
It consists of two wireless help buttons, which are included. Choose from 32 Melody or alarm sounds. It’s really a Home Patient call alert pager so the caregiver doesn’t have to sleep in the same room with her client.
There is an experience of a couple who actually use this to alert their live-in caregiver whenever there is a problem.
This is easy to use because there are buttons that you can easily fix on the bathroom wall beside the toilet shower or bathtub or in the bedroom close to a bedside table, kitchen cabinet, or wherever, using double-sided tape.
It requires three Triple-A batteries and it also has a 500 feet operating range.
Based on reviews that I have read about this product it is very effective and works well if you need additional buttons or receivers you can simply purchase a second kit. The price is about $26 for one kit.
One question that was answered is if there is a way to communicate through this or if it’s just an alarm. The answer is, it’s just a calling button but it works great but it probably won’t work if you wanted to alert someone next door because it works down long corridors but the thickness of walls may affect the signals that it gives off.
Okay so on to number 5.
Smart Caregiver Wireless Monitor with 1 Nurse Call Button & AC Adapter
5. Caregiver Alarms System Number 5 is the Smart caregiver smart caregiver wireless monitor this
is very similar to the product that I just described. Some of the issues that people had with this caregiver alert system were the faulty alert box trigger and no light alert.
A few caregivers reported that the alert box triggered without the call button being pushed and there was also a continuous alarm problem that can only be cut off at the alert box.
Other complaints were that the pager only has an audio alert, not a lighted alert. If you have a problem with hearing it you may not be able to use this product.
What I especially like about these smart caregiver alarms for seniors is that they can be used interchangeably with other smart caregiver products, like the sensor pads and mats.
Good, so that is number 5 on the geriatric caregiver alarms list, hopefully, you found this post helpful.
At your interview for a personal care aide job, you can expect the person conducting the interview to ask you some personal questions.
He or she may go over some of the information you provided in your application form or if you sent a resume she may want to confirm a few important details.
Keep in mind that she is not trying to be nosy. So don’t become defensive or embarrassed, she just wants to know if you are a good fit for the agency, or in the case of an individual client – that client.
What shifts are you available to work?And will you be able to work on weekends?
Do not say that you are available for all shifts. No one can work all shifts. Say you are flexible but state your preference.
For example if you prefer a day shift, you could say: “I can work nights sometimes but I prefer a day shift. I am flexible on weekends and would be glad to work every other weekend.”
Who will look after your children when you are at work?
How many children do you have?
Do you live with their father?
How many people are in your family?
These four questions all have the same intention or similar answer. Just be honest in answering these questions. They may seem a bit personal, but she just wants to know what arrangements you have planned for child care when you are at work.
Note: Most agencies prefer if you have formal child care planned rather than depending on family members to keep the children. So it would be good to enroll your child at a child care service but depend on family members as a backup or emergency.
Where have you worked before?
Why did you leave your former job? And questions like these.
Again, be honest. And avoid saying negative things about your former employer or boss.
If you haven’t worked before, say that. You can also explain that even though you have never had a paying job, you have been busy helping out around your home and list some of the duties you perform at home. For example, cleaning the house, doing laundry, running errands, cooking meals etc.
What is your current source of income?
In other words, who supports your family? Buys the food? Pays the rent and the bills?
Tell the interviewer if you are on public welfare, or government assistance programs. Then quickly follow up with why you want to work and support your family independently. This will let her know that you are a mature person and that you take your responsibilities seriously.
During phase one they advertise their job openings, in phase two they have what is called an intake and assessment period to see which applicants are suitable to become caregivers. During the third phase they hold information sessions.
How can you make sure you get through all the steps. The secret is knowing that it’s all one big test to see if you have what it takes to be good worker. For example can you follow rules or instructions?
You can expect to go through an information session, individual interview and other pre-employment assessment activities to test what you can do. Here are some things you should do. The agency may ask you to:
Call back as required.
Show up on time for all appointments.
Reschedule appointments ahead of time when a problem arises.
Leave your children at home.
Not bringing your children along with you to an interview might seem obvious, but I have heard of a case where a woman did not make advance preparation for childcare and had to take her son along with her to an interview.
If you do not follow these rules you may be dropped from the program. The key is to look at everything as part of the interview.
When you apply for a job as a caregiver, there are some specific personal characteristics that your potential boss will be looking for.
During an interview for a job at a caregiving agency you can expect a good outcome if the interviewer sees these 8 qualities in you.
Maturity. This has nothing to do with how old you are. Whether or not you are mature will show up in your independence, self-direction and self-discipline. For example, showing up on time and in the right kind of clothes.
Concern: Do you have a strong concern or desire to care for someone who is sick, elderly; or disabled or are you just interested in getting a job? The interviewer will watch your body language as you speak about your reasons for applying.
Critical thinking: This is different from criticizing. You show critical thinking in your ability to think through and solve problems without help or hints. You can use your brain to solve problems independently.
Teachable: You have demonstrated your ability to learn. One way to do this is by taking a self directed caregiving course. You have knowledge and skills that can help you successful complete the training. This may not have anything to do with having a high school diploma, employers just want to see that you have some interest in learning how to do your job better.
Sensitivity: Do you have an understanding of other people’s lives and conditions and accept that their beliefs and opinions may be different from yours?
Pattern of responsible decision making. Your employer will want to see that you have made responsible decisions in your life. This does not mean that you are expected to be perfect, but you will have opportunities to explain responsible things you have done.
Good communication skills: Can you express yourself well enough for clients to understand you and for you to understand them? As a caregiver you will be expected to communicate with your clients family members, agency staff, doctors, and nurses. You will also need to be able to write records of work activities and observations.
Good health: Caregiving roles are demanding. You will be expected to stand for extended periods. You will be judged on walking, proper lifting and transfer techniques, stretching,and cleaning. You will need to show that you can physically manage this type of work.
All in all, caregiving jobs are in demand so all you have to do is show up with the right attitude and convince the interviewer that you are ready for work and you should be able to get the job. If you do not succeed, just keep trying to refine your attitude and knowledge and keep applying.
Becoming a personal care aide was not my first choice for a career, it kind a just fell into my lap.
A few years ago, I was working in the hotel industry but soon found myself without a job and penniless. I looked for work in the same field but couldn’t find anything suitable. I had a family to support so I knew I had find work and fast.
My options were limited, even though I could read and write very well I did not have a high school diploma.
Eventually a friend recommended that I tried personal care work since I had some experience caring for an older relative with dementia. Soon I got a job taking care of an elderly man.
The pay was not much but I was able to buy food and pay my rent.
Soon I realized I was on to something so a few months later I took a home health aide course and got a certificate.
The jobs became more regular and later I took another course to become a certified nursing assistant or CNA. I got a job in a hospital with better pay, but the work can be back breaking hard. Every now and then I take a break from hospital work and do personal care in between.
If I had not considered becoming a personal care aide I probably would be still looking for work in the hotel industry.
So here goes …
Five reasons why you should become a personal care aide
Personal Care Workers are in demand. Very few career fields always have jobs available. As people get older they become more dependent on personal care assistants to help them perform activities of daily living. (ADL’s) YOu can work in private homes as well as nursing homes and hospices.
Gain caregiving experience. If you want to pursue a career in healthcare for example become a Registered Nurse, working as personal care aide can give you valuable experience in how to care for people with dignity.
A regular paycheck. True the pay is not something to boast about but nothing beats earning your own money and taking care of your family. Government agencies are lobbying for improved wages for personal care workers as you are reading this. The pay may be is meager but it can mean the difference between feeding your family and starving.
Builds Compassion. You cannot help but become more compassionate and empathetic towards people when you become a personal care aide. You will be helping people to do simple things that you probably take for granted. It will teach you to be grateful for your blessings.
Build your self confidence. Being a personal care assistant is hard but the work can be fulfilling. Just knowing that your makes someone’s life better can make you feel good inside and knowing that you are working and contributing to society builds your confidence.
If you are disabled and thinking about hiring a personal care assistant to help you with day-to-day activities then this article is for you.
First, decide why exactly you need a personal care assistant. One way to do this is by thinking about how you imagine the perfect day. For you to lead a fuller happier life you need to know what your ideal day would be like. So here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start looking for help.
Imagine Your Ideal Day
Where are you?
Who is with you?
When and how did your day start?
What will you do today?
When and how will your day end?
What kind of personal assistance would you need to make your ideal day happen?
Think about what activities you need help with. For example do you need someone to take care of the house, prepare meals, and provide companionship? Or do you need help with activities of daily living for example toileting, bathing, etc?
How to find and hire personal care aides
Finding potential candidates can be a hassle. Here are a few things you can do to lighten up the process.
Tell family and friends that you are hiring help, but you are only prescreening candidates over the phone.
Take out a simple ad in a local newspaper. Clearly state the main duties you expect a potential assistant to perform, along with required qualification and your telephone number for them to leave a message.
Example of personal care ad: “Personal care aide needed to help a disabled person to get to appointments and run errands. Licensed driver preferred. Leave a message at (555) 555-5555.”
Tips for prescreening over the phone.
You can expect a few calls from your ad, it can be overwhelming to select a candidate from a sea of phone calls that is why prescreening over the telephone can be helpful but there are both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of prescreening:
Screen out potentially dangerous candidates
You will be able to ask questions about your most important needs and preferences.
Disadvantages of prescreening:
You may screen out a potentially good candidate because of a bad first impression; some people’s personality might seem different over the phone.
You may screen out someone who would be a good fit but cannot work the hours you want but would be a good backup or might be available in the future.
Things to remember about prescreening.
You do not have to call back everyone who leaves a message
Plan what to say before you call: Write down three to five questions about non-negotiable issues to help determine if the candidate is compatible with your needs and preferences.
Let candidates know that you are prescreening several individuals and that you will call them back if you are interested in meeting them in person.
If something is not clear or doesn’t sound right, ask, “Can you tell me more about that?”.
If you don’t feel right when talking to someone, trust your instincts and end the conversation.
Source: Adapted from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute - Successfully Employing Your Personal Assistants.