The first time I show up at a senior’s home to do work, particularly if I’ve been asked to come by one of the children or a caregiver, it’s always awkward. Normally, the home owner or senior doesn’t really want me there, feels that the job could be done by themselves, isn’t that important, or simply doesn’t trust me. All of which makes the situation tricky to deal with. How to get around this if you are the caregiver or the person doing the work? Here’s some ideas.
Say it’s for yourself, not them. In most cases, they’re your parents and they respond well to your needs and fears. Just tell them it will make you feel better and this tends to get the door open. Or, say you just don’t have the time to do it all yourself and you would rather do positive things together as opposed to running around cleaning the house and fixing stuff. After the first job or two is done, it gets a lot easier.
Tell them about me. I personally don’t like people coming into the house if I don’t know them. Neither do your parents. Give them some background on the handyman or other person coming in, what they do for a living, what their objectives are, etc. Give them my phone number as well and get them involved. After all, autonomy is not a minor issue here and everyone wants to feel in control! Then, introduce them properly. Let me have a moment to chat with them and hear their thoughts. Ultimately it will be the two of us working together and knowing a bit about each other makes it a lot easier.
Say it’s doctor’s orders. This should be used as a last resort but seems to work better for some people than others. Some folks tend to respect doctor authority (not all do that’s for sure!) and they will allow me to come in to put up some bars or other devices if that’s required.
Be clear that it will allow them to stay in their house longer. In the majority of my cases the senior person feels that this is the first step in getting them to move into another form of care. They often complain to me that “she just wants me to go into a senior’s home.” Explain that that is just not the case. Be clear that having help at home will allow them to stay longer. Make the financial case to them as well. If they fear that you are using up the inheritance, tell them honestly that every day they spend at home makes the inheritance all that much larger. In short, be honest and blunt.
Those are just a few methods that work. Each person is different of course but if you follow some of these ideas it might work out a lot better than most cases I see!