Elder Care for the “Not Nice”

There was a Tweet this morning that basically asked that question, “Can a caregiver take care of someone they do not like?”  My first response was, “Duh!”  As a company that provides home care, almost all of Support For Home’s clients are wonderful people, but once in a while there is some one who is hard to love.

However, it does not matter whether I am a sweet person or not.  What matters is that I need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs and Instrumental ADLs).  Professional caregivers / Home Care Aides are going to take care of me and provide the support I need — at least the ones who work for Support For Home.  So, my first response was, as I intimated above, “Of course they can!”

As a home care / elder care company, we do not tolerate abuse of our employees, physical or otherwise, and we have fired clients a number of times.  Our great Home Care Aides are as precious to our extended family as our clients are.  But, short of actual abuse, we know our employees are capable of delivering great, professional care.

Then I thought about it some more.  The question is not really about professional caregivers.  The issue really needs to be addressed to family caregivers.  Why is that?  It is very simple.  The roles and expectations and dynamics are very, very different for a family caregiver, from those for a professional Home Care Aide.

Being a family caregiver is the hardest job in the world.  The relationship between the caregiver and the recipient of care is an emotional one, not a professional one.  The layer of “services” are added on top of the pre-existing emotional relationship.  There is often another layer, which is the larger family dynamic, involving additional relatives.  The bottom line is that there are many pulls and tensions, just by definition, for the family caregiver, that do not exist for the professional.

If the emotional relationship is not a good one before the family caregiver responsibility is added, the family caregiver — and probably the recipient, as well — is probably going to be miserable.  So, if this is the situation that you or a loved one is facing, look for a great home care agency in your area to help.

Best wishes, Bert


2 responses to “Elder Care for the “Not Nice”

  1. I we often discuss an elder’s behaviors in terms that don’t make sense. The world is viewed differently by someone who is ill and approaching their death than someone who views their own death as beyond the horizon. Two different views of the future, two different views of the present.

    As people age and loss the ability to communicate needs and emotions in “normal” acceptable ways, they often revert to ways that are misunderstood. That angry elder who seems unreasonable may be reacting to the sudden fear of losing their independence and their approaching death.

    In 8 years of caring for elderly patients who were dying in hospice, I always approached “unacceptable” behaviors as just expressions of needs I didn’t understand. So where do you begin understanding these behaviors?

    The place to begin is understanding how the worlds of a caregiver and an elderly and/or dying patient differ. Everyone of us looks at the world through our needs, perceptions and beliefs. Often by understanding this, we can react in ways that prevent the anger or violence from occurring. I wrote two articles on this that might be helpful in clarifying what anger means in the elderly and how to react to it.




  2. Thank you for addressing this. It is common issue I have noticed lately.


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