Because it's personal! My father was afflicted with Parkinson's.

My mother first noticed Dad having difficulties with balance, which she attributed to his failing eyesight (macular degeneration). Then she saw the slight tremors, when he tried to eat. Eventually with his needs becoming more and more demanding, Mom realized it was time for a definitive answer to his ever increasing new challenges. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, mom was informed by the doctor that the disease would become increasingly more challenging. That led to a family conference and the importance of taking care of the primary caregiver, our mother. She was adamant about not putting our father into a facility. They had been married for eons and she felt he needed to stay in their home with familiar surroundings.

Now it was the families turn to navigate the many in-home care agencies in hopes of finding a great caregiver to come into their home and give mom some relief. After many calls, we found one that would accommodate our wishes. We wanted an agency that would allow us to pick the caregiver, since we knew their personalities. We were also wanting a company that would grow the hours as the needs changed. Most companies wanted to put us under contract and tell us how many hours we HAD to have. This would be a stranger coming into a home with elderly people who were not used to giving up their privacy and independence. Most companies were unwilling to be flexible with us.

The wonderful caregiver we eventually selected through a company was willing to understand the challenges of Parkinson's, allow my father his dignity, be willing to accommodate his many changing needs and arrive every day with a positive attitude. The caregiver took my father for walks, did range of motion exercises and even had him lifting arm weights. Little did we realize the importance of him maintaining this lifestyle, until he became wheelchair bound.

I can't begin to tell you how important it is to have an open communication between you and the company you have selected. At this time, mom and dad were living in Florida and we were spread out all over the countryside. We never felt like we didn't have a handle on their care. Eventually dad passed away but mom loved the caregiver so much, she continued with her and now at 94 years old she is still going strong. She and the caregiver are best friends and we love that she is so well taken care of by this angel. My mother continues to go to the gym every day to work out with Sondra at her side. She also plays bridge 3 days and 3 evenings per week. I am sure her longevity is attributed to the fact, we realized she needed help to care for her husband. Remember the primary caregiver needs help as well as the client so be proactive.

Start looking for the perfect company before the critical stage and you will be much more relaxed through this rather complicated process.

--Barrett Betschart

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