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Never Underestimate the Power of an Unlicensed Caregiver

My client is a 72 year old, Eastern European woman who had been living in an apartment. She ambulated with a walker. She is diabetic, suffers from anxiety, and has difficulty with her vision. She had contracted an infection in her back due to a fall and had refused to go to the hospital for treatment. She had a part-time unlicensed caregiver who assisted her with errands, bathing, and meal preparation. The caregiver came to help out for several hours a day during the week, but my client was alone at night and on the weekends. I was hired initially to assist my client with making her cremation arrangements, review her paperwork and pay bills, and assess the need for senior living options. Although my client and I have a fairly strong bond, I sensed that the bond between her and the caregiver was much stronger, as they were both from the same country of origin.

After working with my client for a month or so, I told her that I didn’t feel that her apartment was safe for her to be alone. She even confessed to me that the shower didn’t work properly, and the caregiver was filling a bucket and dumping the water over her head in the bathtub in order to bathe her. I suggested calling the landlord.

As time went on, my client named me as her Power of Attorney for Health Care and Property. Her financial advisor, attorney and I had repeated conversations with her (together and apart) regarding the need for her to move. As the saying goes, the conversations fell on deaf ears.

Last December, my client had another fall, and chose not to contact me about it. The caregiver called me 2 weeks after the incident occurred. I discovered that my client had been admitted to the hospital, only to discharge herself against orders and subsequently return. When I inquired as to why I wasn’t called, the caregiver replied, “WE didn’t want to bother you.”

After several weeks in the hospital, my client was informed that she could no longer have therapy there, but needed to go to a rehab. community. My client insisted that I choose a rehab. community close to her apartment. And, it had to be convenient for the caregiver. I placed her at one of the best rehab. communities in the city. She stayed there for close to three months and exhausted her Medicare days. She progressed poorly due to anxiety. The psychiatrist prescribed anti-depressants to combat her anxiety during physical therapy sessions.

Since my client’s Medicare days had ended, I went on 2 wild goose chases to find a nursing home that was less expensive than the current home on a private pay basis ($11,000 per month?). The caregiver voiced her opinion that any nursing home was too expensive for my client, which was not the case. She had plenty of funds. Yet, I sensed the caregiver was fearing for her own position. My client refused to move twice, then abruptly told me that her caregiver had arranged for a live-in aide to help move her back home for $150 per day. As you may or may not know, there is a very strong underground system of unlicensed caregivers in the Chicago metro area. I argued with the original caregiver that unlicensed caregivers (in contrast to those from an agency licensed and bonded through the State of Illinois) were dangerous for my client, as she had no recourse for suing them should something go wrong. I also informed the caregiver that IRS 1099 forms must be completed so that the appropriate deductions for tax purposes could be taken – a conversation that silenced her immediately. As my client is capable of making her own decisions, she chose to go home against my wishes​.

I recently met the new caregiver for the first time. She attempted to impress me and the home care nurse by saying she had a master’s degree (she never clarified in what) from the old country. She had looked up the medications on the internet and concluded my client was on too many medications, including the anti-depressants. It sounded as if she intended to intervene in some way. She showed resistance when the nurse said she was returning in a few days. When the nurse informed the caregiver that my client needed to see her primary care physician in the next few weeks, she replied, “How will we get her there?” I said, “How about a Medivan?”

My service agreement which my client signed states that the “care manager will notify client if any request is outside of the scope of her business.” The request to supervise unlicensed caregivers definitely fits that bill.

I share this story not to boast or complain about a challenging case, but to point out the vulnerability of some seniors and the importance of obtaining one’s senior living advice from a duly trained and certified, professional provider.

Do you need a second opinion? Let Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors help. Call us at (708) 415-2934 or email us. Please visit our website. Please watch my video to learn how the process works and learn what some clients have to say.

Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors
1497 Shire Circle
Inverness, IL 60067
Phone: 847.934.5303
Cell: 708.415.2934
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Andrea Donovan
Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors
1497 Shire Circle
Inverness, IL 60067

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