Avoiding a Toxic Caregiver

This is a guest post by Josh Byer.

A new caregiver, despite the name, is still a stranger. Not yet a member of the family, they are to be given an incredible depth of access to your loved one’s entire life. Their health, diet, social interactions, and possessions will soon be managed by this unknown person.

wheelchair by betacam of stock.xchng

That’s why it’s absolutely essential to do your due diligence when seeking out a caregiver on behalf of an elderly individual. If you select the wrong candidate, a plethora of problems will soon fill every part of your life.

Behavioral Anomalies

When any of us apply for a new job, we attempt to impress our potential employer by putting our best foot forward. Look for an individual who waits for your conversational cues before continuing. Interviewees who tend to dominate the conversation are exhibiting non-responsive traits, by failing to gauge the appropriateness of their own behavior through the reactions they arouse in their listeners.

Many neglectful caregivers are simply inattentive social partners. Inattentiveness may be an acceptable trait in a friend or associate, but it is the antithesis of the caregiver’s oath – which is to provide a level of care based on the immediate and essential needs of your loved one.


Belligerence is a toxic trait in any caregiver. It often signals a deeper problem with authority, that will grow into a larger conflict as time passes. Be on guard for an inability to carry out your instructions, or a quickness to find fault in your requested chore list. Some caregivers will use such criticisms to test your self-esteem, in an effort to evaluate whether or not they can dominate your character.

Remember that many of us have spent our careers as employees, and are inexperienced at managing another individual in a work environment. Spend some time accessing resources that contain tips on how to be a responsible boss, and bolster yourself before every interaction. Sometimes, it can be difficult to give another human being orders – but that’s your job, and the better you do it, the better the level of care provided to your senior will be.

 Background Check

Many respectable, reputable agencies are out there. Established home care services can offer a fine resource to begin your search. Unfortunately, there are a variety of fly-by-night operations that exist, and they may very well cut corners when it comes to performing background checks on their employees. You should ask to view background documents with your own eyes. You should also ask for the caregiver’s complete name. Spend a few minutes Googling the individual. If previous clients were unhappy about the service they have received, chances are some of those complaints may have surfaced online.

Monitor the Situation

Once your caregiver has been hired, don’t fall into the trap of being a lazy boss. It’s essential to stay current on how your loved one is doing – indeed, it’s absolutely critical that you monitor their moods and emotional state on an ongoing basis. Behavioral changes in your mom or dad are often the first and only indication that you may be dealing with a problematic caregiver. Remember, this is still your parent – so your access to them should remain completely unrestricted. It is well within your rights to stop by unannounced for an unexpected visit. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the trash bag. If your caregiver has a substance abuse problem, this is the first place evidence of such an issue will manifest.

Author Bio: Josh Byer is an author, copywriter, and blogger residing in Vancouver, Canada. He writes for SeniorsZen.com who provide comprehensive information on Independent Living, Home Care, Residential Care Homes, Assisted Living, Alzheimer’s Care, and Nursing Homes in all Canadian provinces.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Betacam via stock.xchng

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