an online resource for baby boomers

A Stranger in Your Midst

I’ve heard the story so many times, the names and towns are different, but it usually goes something like this, a vibrant busy family is suddenly stopped in their tracks. Mom or Dad has suffered a stroke, or received a devastating diagnosis. Can you hear the record scratching? (If you are reading this publication you probably still remember records!) You can take some vacation time to help with Mom’s care, perhaps another family member has time on Wednesday mornings or Thursday afternoons, you feel ill equipped to provide all of the assistance she will need and you‘re not sure where to turn. There is help out there; you just need to know where to look for it!

In Pennsylvania, you can choose from an extensive list of State Licensed Private Duty Home Care Providers. Go to: to review the list. Be sure to educate yourself and compare service options as well as staff credentials and staff supervision protocols comparative to prices. Keep in mind, most often, “You get what you pay for”. Look for the agency that will help you through this process. One whose representative is experienced, knowledgeable and can provide you with information on community services and options and one who knows what’s available in your market. Someone who listens to you and to your unique family needs.

So now you have chosen a provider and you wait for this angel of an aide to arrive who will care for Mom when you can’t be there. Now there’s a stranger in your midst, a stranger who needs to have access to the most private parts of your home. Be sure to take some time to review with the aide where she will find supplies in your home and be clear if there are areas that are off limits. Set boundaries and expect the aide to respect them. Don’t ask the aide for her personal contact information. All questions or requests should be addressed through your agency contact person.

It can be a little uncomfortable at first; Mom was always so independent and private now she needs assistance with bathing. That’s not easy for anyone and there will be an adjustment period. Don’t forget that you and your family are strangers to the aide as well. However the aide should be a professional and be working to make this transition smooth.

Make sure the aide and the agency know your expectations, agree on a schedule and keep to it. Your aide probably has other client s perhaps before or after the visit with your family. If you arrive home late to relieve your aide, another family will have to wait for care. If your aide is late without reasonable notice or explanation you need to contact your agency representative. Confrontation will not be productive for either of you.

Be sure that the agency has provided a written care plan designed personally for Mom by a licensed Nurse who can best evaluate her personal needs based on her clinical abilities. The aide will need this road map so that expectations are managed for all. Make sure your aide knows to which members of your family it is ok for her to speak to or ask questions about your mother’s care.

Remember that she/he is not there to assist other family members. Your mother’s needs are her charge. If there are other family members in the home at the time the aide is there be sure he/she is introduced to them. Talk to your aide. Never speak of her in the third person while in earshot of you. A well trained aide will pick up on your cues; if you smile you will receive a smile. Don’t worry if Mom is a difficult or non compliant patient. Experienced aides are well able to handle any difficulty Mom can dish out. If you treat your aide like a new member of your family dynamic Mom’s care will be a less stressful for all of your family. Mutual respect is the glue that will make care giving successful. It needs to be given and received. Remember you both ultimately have the same goal... Keeping Mom safe at home cared for with dignity and respect.

Home About Contact Boomers Resource Guide
Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide