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Does your mother trust you?

Caregiver , SYNERGY, Elderly , Senior , Alzheimers , TrustI’m a consultant who works with small businesses. I’m currently working with one of my client’s employees on the topic of trust – we’re reading the book “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen R. Covey. Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking about trust in non-business terms, too…most specifically about the “trust relationship” between myself and my elderly mother. I’ve been her in-home caregiver for a little over a year now, but our closeness goes way back

We’ve shared a strong bond most of our lives. Maybe it’s because I’m the baby of the family and the only girl…but whatever the reason…Mom and I are very close.  As she has aged, my mother has relied upon me more and more for care, support, advice and help. Unfortunately, she also trusts others less as she ages. This has been a challenge because I can’t do it all alone! We have several professional caregivers who provide respite care when I need to go on business trips, am sick, or sneak off to a movie.

This week we are “breaking in” a new caregiver…and TRUST is a hurdle we will have to overcome. After some experience, I have collected the following tips to share with you. I hope they are helpful.


  • Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a crisis. Assess your caregiver needs early on and be proactive.
  • Allow time for trust to build. Build-in time for a relationship to develop. I usually stay home for the first few visits from a new caregiver. Though my thrifty father thinks this is a waste of money, since a caregiver “isn’t needed” when I’m at home…I know the importance to my mom that she have time to get acquainted with the new caregiver, with the security of knowing I’m  just a shout away.
  • Prepare the new caregiver. I usually share some of my mother’s “pet peeves” with new caregivers so they can avoid them. Mom likes her privacy and doesn’t like “chatty” folks. This is helpful information…since it’s not uncommon for new employees to be “on” and talk a lot.
  • Encourage transparency and honest communication. I always ask Mom some probing questions after a new caregiver’s visit to ensure that trust is on the horizon.
  • Don’t try to force a relationship. If Mom and the new caregiver don’t “click” (which rarely happens) I’m careful not to force it.
  • Don’t be threatened by trust developed with others. The first time my mother really bonded with a professional caregiver, I was a little “emotional” about it. Though it can be taxing at times, I obviously took pride in being my mom’s “#1” and found it a bit challenging to have some “competition.” I’ve since learned to embrace the help of others realize that they don’t pose a threat to my relationship         with my mother. 

I’d love to hear from you about your “rust relationships” with your elderly parents. What tips do you have?

Links on Trust:

Speed of Trust - Summary

How to Build and Repair Trust

Improving Communication with Older Patients

Deb S. is a business consultant who moved in with her elderly parents in September of 2013 to augment their in-home care. Her mother, 89, suffers from dementia, heart disease and diabetes; her father, 92, has terminal heart disease and has been on hospice since December, 2013. Deb writes exclusively for SYNERGY HomeCare offices in Washington and Oregon. Deb welcomes your feedback and ideas for future blog topics. 




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