The 3 Most Critical Mistakes Family Caregivers Make and How to Avoid Them

Struggling with daily caregiving stress?
Here are the top 3 mistakes family caregivers make that lie at the heart of the problem.
Caregiving for a loved one, be it your kids, a friend, or an elderly parent, it can be quite an ordeal. Even if you know what you are doing. 
As in other areas of daily living, we pick up bad habits and easy fixes instead of following a proven process.  
We get used to doing some things in a particular way. We don’t know when we started; we only remember we’ve always done it that way. 
So let’s cover 3 of these very common and costly mistakes we see caregivers make every day, and how you can avoid them.  

MISTAKE #1 –YOU are doing ALL the caregiving.  

We like to say: “as far as family caregiving goes, decisions always trump conditions.” 
Here’s what happens as a full time caregiver…
You give control to the conditions, instead of leading with smart decisions. 
You’re doing your parents a disservice. And putting your own quality of life, health, and happiness at risk.
This is a guaranteed ticket to an early grave for you! 
This doesn’t mean you don’t get involved. Do so, but in a smart and meaningful way.
You are no good to anyone burnt out and spent. 
SOLUTION – Caregiving is a team sport.  
First, build a hand-picked team around you.
Home Care Agencies that will provide proper guidance and qualified personnel on demand… are always the best choice. 
Reach out to a Social Worker or Care Manager. They have a world of experience and practical information at their fingertips. 
Keep your Doctor in the loop, even though he may not be as involved in the day to day of family caregivers. He/she’s still a great community resource. 
Keep a list of community resources handy.  
Forge relationships with other family caregivers that share a similar situation to yours. There’s strength in numbers!  
Be Smart… Build your team! 

MISTAKE #2  –Not staying current on elder caregiver options and resources. 

In caregiving, information is TRUE POWER! 
I can’t tell you how many sons and daughters we consult with, who come to us frustrated, and with no idea of what to do.
Stay current on caregiving issues before a crisis strikes.
SOLUTION – Focus on solution to mistake #1 above.
You’ll never learn as well or as fast than with actual professionals working with you.
There are plenty of resources that can guide and educate you, and in some cases get you the help you need outright.  

MISTAKE #3 –Not knowing the difference between hiring an agency vs. hiring private.  

This is the most expensive and time consuming of all mistakes. Because is the least understood and the most misapplied. 
The belief is that hiring private will be less expensive than going through an agency.
Though there are benefits to doing this, it isn’t always the case. 
SOLUTION – The right answer to this question is that there is no right answer. It depends on your circumstances. Instead let’s consider the pros and cons and YOU be the judge! 
*modified from original pros&cons article. 
  • You are in charge of the selection process and making the final decision.
  • A private caregiver is generally cheaper than hiring through a home care agency.
  • You are giving caregivers an opportunity to work independently and for better wages.
  • It may be difficult to find qualified caregivers.
  • You will need a back-up plan when your caregiver is not available.
  • Conducting personal interviews, checking references, and performing background checks are time consuming tasks.
  • You are responsible for managing employee payroll and tax records. As well as withholding social security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.
  • You are liable for job related accidents in your home.
  • You have the possibility of several caregivers to choose from.
  • Most agencies offer back-up caregivers when your regular caregiver is not available.
  • Nurse assistants have formal training and certification.
  • Caregiver references and background checks are done at the time of hire.
  • Home care agencies are required to supervise their aides and evaluate performance.
  • Caregivers take part in ongoing training.
  • Licensed home care agencies carry liability insurance, and many have worker’s compensation. 
  • Insured or bonded Employees. Protects you against theft and damages.
  • Different caregivers may cause a disruption in the care of your parents.
  • Home care agencies are more expensive (usually $3-$9 more per hour) than private caregivers. They have expenses related to recruitment, hiring, and payroll deductions. Including ongoing supervision and training.
The best agencies focus on quality and accessibility of the aides. They obsess about it.
As well as the best chefs obsess about the quality and freshness of the food they prepare. 
As you can see, making the decision to hire a home health aide based only on budget is not very smart.  
When we help family caregivers, our strategy is to perform good assessments. And provide the right advice based on facts.
This helps key family members make the right decision. Because they are now informed and educated. 
So there you have it, 3 costly mistakes family caregivers are making and how to avoid them. 


Untitled designClaudio Alegre is the CEO & Chief Content Writer for Angel Home Care Services on the Web and Patient and Family Advocate off the Web. He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 boys. He's passionate about healthcare and all things caregiving. He can be reached at [email protected] or directly at 305.220.4544
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