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Change for the Country = Change for the Bidens

Vice President's Family Faces Same Decision as Millions: How to Care for Mom?

SUNRISE, Fla., Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, moves into the White House to help with childcare, Joe Biden's sprightly mother, Jean, is in for some life changes of her own. Ms. Biden, who is in her early nineties, has lived with her son and his family at their Delaware home for years. With Joe Biden moving to Washington, D.C. to take on the demanding job of Vice President, the family has decided that Ms. Biden will remain in Delaware. They will face additional transition as they determine how to continue providing her with care that meets her needs.

The Bidens are the most visible example of a life-changing decision that millions of families must make each year. For many, the sensitive topic of how to care for an aging parent can be daunting, with no clear roadmap on how to make the best decision.

One thing is clear: the worst thing to do is to deny the need or avoid the discussion. "If you wait until your parent is having a health crisis, you are forced to make crucial decisions without the benefit of research or interviews with prospective caregivers - maybe not even reliable information about your parent's health conditions or medications," says Kathleen Gilmartin, RN, President and CEO of Interim HealthCare (, a leading provider of health care personnel at all skill levels in all settings. "The sooner you open dialogue with your parent, the easier the transition will be for them and for you."

Gilmartin has personal experience providing care for seniors: she cared for her grandmother in her home, and also used home health services to help provide long-distance care for her father and mother. She offers some advice for families who want to provide the best possible care for their aging parent:

  • If your parent only requires assistance with light tasks like grocery shopping, transportation, or housekeeping, tap informal networks, like family, faith community and neighbors, first. However, it's important to recognize when their needs outpace the resources. If the parent has ongoing health problems, or cannot cope with daily tasks such as meal preparation, bathing, dressing, or has difficulty with taking medication, professional home care should be considered.
  • Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust who have used home care providers. Consult your family doctor, hospital discharge department, local Council on Aging or the National Association of Home Care & Hospice (
  • Interview several reputable, credentialed providers:
  • Do they answer your questions thoroughly and offer to have a nurse or social worker speak with you?
    • How do they evaluate the needs of new clients?
    • How do they evaluate the changing needs of existing clients as they age?
    • How do they hire and supervise their employees?
    • How do they review and assess their employees' performance?
    • Do they allow their caregivers to accept cash? If they do, this is a warning sign.
    • Will they be able to check your insurance to determine your coverage?
    • If you are providing long-distance care, do they offer technology like client Internet portals and telemonitoring of your parent's condition (such as temperature and blood pressure)? Tools like these provide consistent, objective data on your parent's status.

Selection of a home care service is a beginning, not an end. "Home care is not a one-size-fits-all-solution -- it's an ongoing relationship that needs to respond to your loved one's changing needs over time," Gilmartin said. "Staying involved helps ensure the right care from the right person with the right skills and personality."

Gilmartin advises establishing clear expectations and ongoing, open communication between the patient, family and provider. She feels it is the provider's responsibility to give answers that are simple and clear, and to anticipate and provide recommendations to address changing needs that accompany aging. Gilmartin said, "We're all working towards the same goal: golden years that are enjoyable for all. So many of our patients have given so much, it is a pleasure to be able to give back."

Interim HealthCare offers an online assessment quiz to help people know when to consider a change in living arrangements:

Founded in 1966, Interim HealthCare is the nation's oldest proprietary national organization providing health care personnel at all skill levels in all settings. Through a national network of more than 300 locally owned and operated franchise offices, Interim HealthCare provides diverse services including community based home care and health care staffing. Interim employs more than 75,000 health care workers and provides services to approximately 50,000 people each day. For more information, visit

SOURCE Interim HealthCare
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