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My parents' house needs a lot of work before home care can come in. What can I do?


Question:   My father has mid to late stage Alzheimer's/dementia with obsessive compulsive disorder. The house is in need of a lot of work to make it more accessible, safer and ready for home health to come in to help my mom bath him, wash his hair, clip his nails, keep him dry due to incontinence. I have been working with my parents on the house for three years and now mom needs some testing and surgeries. Dad cannot cook or fix himself anything to eat or take his medicine on his own. Getting the house ready is taking its toll on mom and me. What can we do?

Dr. Amy: I recommend that you call a home care company and have them come to do an assessment as soon as possible. If there is something that needs to be done to your home before they are able to provide services they will tell you. It is quite likely they can begin providing services now. Home care workers work in all kinds of homes. Some are very grand and some are very modest. You do not need to have everything all cleaned up before they come in. You need the help now and a home care company can establish a good care program for your father.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. April 7, 2012 at 7:14 am | Posted by Merilee Griffin

    This question reminded me of my mother, who tried many times to hire cleaning help at home. She always had to clean up before they got there, so they wouldn't think she was a bad housekeeper! I thought your answer was excellent. If the agency can't work in this house for any reason, they will probably be able to fix the problem themselves, taking a great deal of the burden from the family.


    • April 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Posted by Amy D'Aprix

      Hi Merilee - Thanks for your response. I think we all know people like your Mom who cleaned before the cleaning help arrived! It is a great reminder to me about how hard we try to project a "public face" rather than just letting our authentic selves show. I know that family caregivers often try to hide their feelings of frustration and overwhelm because they think they "shouldn't" have those feelings. And the result is that those feelings come out in other ways: depression, anxiety, self-destructive behaviors such as over drinking and over eating. I think it would be a much less stressful world if we all gave ourselves - and those around us - permission to just be our authenic, imperfect selves! Then caregivers who are struggling with those difficult emotions would likely find that these emotions are less likely to build up over time. Thanks for taking the time to write. Warmly, Dr. Amy


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