Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely. A member of our Case Management Team will visit to assess your parents in their home. We will then work with the assigned Caregiver to ensure that they have all the information they need to provide sensitive and respectful home care services. 

Whether it is honoring the culinary rules within a religious household, appreciating longstanding family traditions, or recognizing a particular way your parents prefer the house to be run, we will do everything in our power to provide culturally aware and sensitive home care assistance. Further, we know that our professional relationship is with both your loved one and with you—the family. If you have concerns or mid-course corrections that need to be made along the way, we are always ready to listen and adjust our services accordingly. We work together to make sure the needs of everyone are met, be it yours, your parents, or our Caregiver’s.

If, for any reason, a particular Caregiver does not seem to be working out, we will do everything we can to find someone that better meets your family’s elder care needs. This is all part of HouseWorks deep and continuing commitment to client-focused care. 

 

My father loves to drive, but he’s 93 with significant short-term memory loss and dementia. He’s never had an accident but he’s gone through some red lights and we worry about him. My mother always goes along with him, to be safe.

HouseWorks knows that this can be a tough time for everyone and a difficult conversation (or series of conversations) to have. Driving is often the single-most important mark of one’s independence. The thought of having to take away that privilege, even if it is for our parents’ own safety, can be very troubling and anxiety provoking.

A few examples of things to look for that may indicate the time has come are minor accidents, difficulty finding familiar destinations, traffic tickets or warnings, dents on the car or around the house, and driving at inappropriate speeds – either much too fast or too slowly.

We often refer families to the DriveWise and DriveAdvise program run by the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston or Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s Drive Safe program. Recognized as a national model, DriveWise offers an objective safe driving evaluation for people of all ages who have experienced neurological, psychological and/or physical impairments such as dementia and memory loss. 

If you want to urge your loved one to let you or someone else drive, there are many creative ways to start the conversation. For help brainstorming ideas or to learn more about incidental transportation, a service we provide that includes both medical transportation and non-emergency transportation to places like the grocery store or a hair appointment, call us today.

Falls prevention is an essential consideration for seniors and represents one of the most important steps we can take when helping elders ‘age in place.’ As we grow older our eyesight, balance, and reaction time may diminish gradually. Our bones become more brittle and injuries take longer to heal. Sometimes, just making a few simple changes around the home can help prevent a fall.

The bathroom is the most common place for falls to occur. For just a few dollars, placing an inexpensive rubber mat on the inside of a tub and a rug with a non-slip backing just outside of the tub can make a world of a difference. Grab bars help get into and out of the tub safely—we recommend 2 bars, one to hold as you step in and out, and one to hold while inside the tub. You should never expect a towel rack to support your weight. Instead, install an attractive grab bar and use it as a towel rack, too. A smaller hand-hold near the sink might also be helpful. Additionally, there are many types of raised toilet seats that can make the restroom easier and safer.

Surprisingly, many falls also occur in the bedroom. When waking in the morning or after a nap, people may be lightheaded at first. Take a moment to get your balance before you step away from the bed. A transfer handle bed rail may also be helpful.

Stairway safety is important, particularly for seniors. All staircases should have at least one sturdy railing running the full length on both sides—be sure the stairs themselves are in good repair. All entry doors and hallways should be well lit. HouseWorks suggests placing inexpensive automatic night lights throughout the home to improve visibility. It’s a good idea to place non-slip backings or double-sided tape on all entryway rugs, as this is a common source of slips and falls.

In the kitchen, reorganizing storage can make a world of difference. Possible measures include placing frequently used items in easily accessible cabinets and putting bulky or heavy items in the base cabinets or open shelves. HouseWorks recommends using the highest shelves for things that are used infrequently, like holiday items.

As we age, simply maneuvering around our home can become difficult. Try to move furniture and household items as needed to ensure there are clear, unobstructed walkways in each room. Make sure all power cords, cable TV and computer wires are neatly run along the walls—never put cables under carpet, as they can fray and cause a fire.

If you are concerned about an elder taking a shower safely, HouseWorks can provide a Caregiver trained to supervise showering while treating your loved one with respect and dignity. Simply call our main number, 617-928-1010 to speak with a Case Manager who can set things in motion. Our Home Modification Department is also a resource for families who want more information or would like to request an in-home evaluation.

Yes, HouseWorks can absolutely provide non-emergency medical transportation around the Boston metro area. A HouseWorks Caregiver can pick him up at home. Unlike a traditional taxi service, our Caregivers are trained in elderly assistance. If he’s wheelchair bound, we will assist in getting him into the vehicle. Our Caregiver will wait with him at the doctor’s office, and then take him home. Once home, we’ll also make sure he is safe and settled comfortably. 

HouseWorks accepts full responsibility for the safety and security of your father door- to-door. Additionally, if we need to stop on the way home to drop off or pick up a prescription, that’s no problem at all. The only requirement in regard to transportation is a round trip. 

She’s hard of hearing and has short-term memory loss. Like lots of people, when she’s in the doctor’s office it can be hard for her to take in what’s being said.

Yes, HouseWorks can accompany your mom to the doctor and even take elderly assistance a step farther. First, a HouseWorks Caregiver will meet your mom at home. If she’s wheelchair bound, we will assist in getting her into the vehicle. We will also help with any personal health care needs that may arise before, during or after her appointment.

During the appointment, our Caregiver will sit in and take complete notes. They’ll write down the doctor-recommended follow-up steps as well as the time and date of any future appointments that are scheduled. HouseWorks will contact you promptly, either by email or phone, to let you know what was learned during the appointment. If you like, we can also email or call your mom to review what was discussed during her appointment and to remind her of any upcoming appointments or new prescriptions.

Finally, since your mom is hard of hearing, our Caregiver will advocate on your mom’s behalf by letting the doctor know to speak up and to speak slowly and clearly. The presence of a second set of ‘eyes and ears’ in the examining room is a great benefit for clients and helps to put family at ease.

Bed bugs are a growing problem in many communities and eradicating them has become a serious challenge. Unlike other pests, they are not a result of poor housekeeping and do not spread disease, but they are very annoying and can be a great source of anxiety. 

Bed bugs can be more difficult to control than other insects, often taking several treatments spread over a period of weeks. Most over-the-counter products are ineffective, and improper use may exacerbate an infestation and can even cause serious health risks. If you think you may have bed bugs, have a pest control professional perform an inspection and determine the most appropriate course of action. The first step always involves prepping the home before bed bug treatment. For a list of local pest control professionals in the Boston area, click here.

What else do I need to know?

The most common method of extermination is a chemical spray of pesticides, which must be applied by a licensed and trained professional. Bed bugs are tiny and hide in the crevices of baseboards and behind outlets. For the treatment to be most effective, the exterminator will need to spray around the perimeter of the affected rooms and furnishings. It may also be necessary to move furniture and belongings away from the walls to treat these hard-to-reach areas.

Most exterminators also recommend washing and drying all clothing and linens at high heat—even items that are clean and stored inside dressers or closets. HouseWorks provides all manner of bed bug preparation. To ensure treatment is as effective as possible, HouseWorks will provide a list of all of the tasks that must be performed before treatment can begin.

Another method of extermination involves pumping very hot air into the affected rooms and sustaining that high temperature for a number of hours.

All of this can be very overwhelming and disruptive, especially for seniors or families with small children. For anyone who may not be able to manage these tasks independently, there are companies—including HouseWorks—that offer services to assist in the necessary preparations, and can coordinate with all parties to help resolve this problem as quickly as possible.

For more information about bed bugs, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, offers extensive information and additional resources.

 

HouseWorks strongly advocates for the idea of aging-in-place. Helping elderly clients to remain engaged and present in their lives is the foundation of the HouseWorks home care service model. Health experts tell us that isolation can take a toll in many different ways, both physically and mentally. The continued ability to do errands, visit friends, attend club meetings, pick up some groceries, or simply go to the library represents a key contribution to our clients’ general well-being and to their mental health. 

HouseWorks is happy to provide non-medical transportation and can schedule rides as needed or in advance for events that occur regularly. Our Caregivers are available for trips to the barber shop or hair salon, to play bridge with friends, or just to visit their loved ones. Such outings help elderly clients maintain their independence and feel connected to the world around them, especially for seniors who have enjoyed an active social life in the past.  

Call us today to schedule a ride: 617-928-1010

 

A health care proxy is a type of advance directive, also known as a living will. It is a legal document prepared in advance to ensure that your caregivers understand your wishes about your care. A health care proxy names the person you have chosen to express your health care wishes and empowers that person with medical power of attorney. This person (or ‘proxy’) is recognized under Massachusetts law as the person who can speak for you concerning health care decisions if your doctor determines that you are no longer able to make or communicate health care decisions. This person is often a family member or close friend. Ideally, it is someone who knows your personal wishes, values and beliefs. It’s someone you can trust to make the same health care decisions you would make if you could.

Choosing this person before he or she is needed can help you feel confident that you will always be treated according to your own wishes. On your behalf, he or she can explain to your doctor why you may or may not want certain treatment. Your health care team will still determine what treatment options are medically appropriate in your case, but they will consult with your proxy—as they would with you—regarding your values and the goals of care.

Act now to preserve your voice

HouseWorks strongly supports your basic right as a patient to express your personal health care wishes and actively take part in decisions related to your health care. However, accidents or severe illnesses may occur that can prevent you from participating in decisions about your care or expressing your wishes. HouseWorks encourages people who are perfectly healthy as well as people who are sick to prepare a health care proxy. Many serious health problems arise unexpectedly, so it is advisable to have a health care proxy ready at all times.

The implementation of a health care proxy and the decisions made around such a document are quite complex and require much thought. It is important to note that the rules surrounding health care proxies can vary from state to state. As always, you will be well served by discussing the matter with your family doctor, your attorney, or both. 

For more information and to obtain a downloadable copy of a Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Form, Click here to visit the website of the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts.

 

When all potential treatments have been exhausted and a person decides it is time to let nature take its course, hospice care provides pain management and emotional support. Hospice focuses on palliative care—care aimed specifically on making patients as comfortable as possible. Hospice care often provides patients with peace of mind, armed with the knowledge that their loved ones are not alone in the struggle to accept death and grieve the loss. That simple yet vital knowledge can make their last days much easier and offer immense emotional relief.

Choosing hospice is a very personal decision. Making the decision to call hospice care for your loved one can be heartbreaking. But in giving your loved one the best end-of-life care possible, hospice is a very good choice. Keep the lines of communication open with your loved one; when they mention hospice, it might be the right time to consider moving forward. Take them at their word and make the call, then trust the highly trained and compassionate hospice workers to help you with whatever comes next.

A patient is probably ready for hospice care when they have decided to forgo any medical treatment in search of a cure and opt instead for purely palliative care. It is important to contact a hospice agency before pain management becomes an issue. Each person's final months and days are unique to that individual. Therefore, setting a certain time frame on how long hospice care will be needed can be difficult. Most insurance companies pay for hospice care during the last six months of life. While some might find hospice useful for that entire period of time, others may prefer to wait until they are closer to the end of their life.

For more information about hospice care in Massachusetts, please click here for a link to the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts.

 

Yes, our HouseWorks Home Modification department can help to clean out your house. Whenever a parent dies, it can be overwhelming to think about what your next step should be and harder still to actually take action. Contacting a member of our Home Modification team is the perfect place to begin. HouseWorks goes above and beyond what a typical cleaning or housekeeping service would provide. A HouseWorks team member will come to assess the home and coordinate subsequent cleanout. If needed, we can even prepare the house for sale—making cosmetic upgrades such as painting, minor carpentry, electrical/plumbing repair, as well as heavy-duty household cleaning to ensure the house will show well. 

The HouseWorks team has extensive training working with families. We understand how to help families overcome even the most challenging situations and always treat our clients with respect and compassion. HouseWorks has extensive experience providing help for hoarders and their families, whether addressing serious clutter or health code violations that may have been caused by hoarding. Our Home Modification Team will remove and dispose of trash and unwanted items, including furniture, and can make charitable donations of items on your behalf. That said, we remain sensitive to your wishes concerning what should be saved.

Yes. Every HouseWorks Caregiver is bonded. 

A bond ensures that the individual’s criminal background has been thoroughly checked out by an insurance company. It also means that the insurance company has secured funds that are available to the customer in case of theft. Consumer protection organizations such as the Better Business Bureau recommend hiring only contractors and service providers who are “bonded and insured” to do work at your home. HouseWorks understands the importance of trust when it comes to hiring a home care agency and we work hard to foster confidence with our clients.   

Happily—as has been proven throughout our experience with clients—HouseWorks can attest that our aging-in-place focused home care services don’t result in a loss of independence. On the contrary, our home care assistance retains and reinforces genuine independence by allowing clients to feel safe, secure, well cared-for, and free from anxiety. Only then can they focus on the things that truly give them pleasure and provide their lives with a sense of fulfillment. Families can breathe more easily knowing their loved ones have home care assistance without sacrificing independence. 

Not convinced? Consider the following example:

A very elderly couple came to HouseWorks as clients. Dad’s dementia was gradually deepening and, since their adult children lived too far away to be a regular presence or act as a helping hand, Mom was left to cope alone. Between trying to stay on top of household matters and monitoring her husband to keep him safe, Mom was exhausted. But both were adamant—they wanted to stay in their own home where things were familiar, where they knew their neighbors, and where they had raised their family and felt most comfortable. Clearly, help was needed.

Following a home assessment with a HouseWorks Case Manager, the family engaged us to provide a Caregiver to spend a few hours with Dad every day. In good weather, they went for walks, and when he was well enough, they read books together and listened to music. This added assistance gave Mom the respite she needed from the “watch-dog” role with which she had been struggling. Home care services from HouseWorks gave her time to attend to her own needs without the feelings of guilt that she had been experiencing previously.

The presence of our Caregiver helped to keep Dad engaged and active both mentally and physically, while relieving Mom from the pressure of sole responsibility. For the first time in months, she was able to invite a couple of friends in for tea and benefit from renewed contact with old friends. The family enjoyed peace-of-mind knowing that our professional team would be keeping an eye on their parents and would let them know immediately if more help was needed. In turn, home care allowed Mom and Dad to continue living independently in their own home. 

Acknowledging that it may be time to get home care assistance can be daunting, yet this is one of the most important conversations you may have with a parent. Honestly assessing your own capacity as a caregiver takes courage, but is critical to everyone concerned. Regardless of how much you love your parents or how much energy you have, there may come a time when it gets to be too much. You may find you need support sooner rather than later, so HouseWorks recommends that clients begin the conversation before a crisis arises—while everyone involved can fully participate.  

An important step is to speak with your parent’s primary care doctor. Many people choose to meet privately without their parent being present; this allows you to have a frank conversation about your loved-ones’ medical status. To protect patient privacy, the physician is only able to share private healthcare information with you if your parent has given the doctor written permission to do so. Gaining permission can be taken care of right away, clearing the way for a discussion with your parent about what the future may bring and home care options.

We can answer all your questions

HouseWorks’ goal is to ease the challenges of aging so that our clients and their families can focus on those relationships, activities and interests that are most meaningful to them. If you think the time is approaching when you’ll need help – or if that day is already here – call us at 617-928-1010 or toll free at 800-928-3393. Our Case Managers are available round-the-clock to speak with you by phone. HouseWorks is also pleased to meet with you at home.

Our Case Managers will walk you through the variety of elder care services we provide and can answer any questions you may have, including those related to cost. Moreover, matching clients with the right Caregiver is a huge part of what we do at HouseWorks. Our Case Managers will work with you one-on-one to lessen your burdens, problem-solve, and create order out of chaos. HouseWorks is here to guide you through the toughest parts of helping your parent to age-in-place.

Even if you aren’t sure whether home care services are right for you, please call us. At HouseWorks, we understand how unsettling it can be to see your parent crossing that line, when frailty becomes obvious. Our goal is to help you think things through with absolutely no pressure. You don’t need to go through this alone. HouseWorks can help.

All HouseWorks Caregivers wear name badges that include their first name, last name, and a recent photo. While HouseWorks does not provide uniforms, you can rest assured that your Caregiver will always be professionally attired. To help you and your loved one prepare for a Caregiver, HouseWorks can even send you a profile ahead of time. These profiles include a picture of your Caregiver along with some basic details such as their personal interests, languages spoken, and how long they’ve been working in the home care industry. 

If at any time you feel that things are not working out between your loved one and our Caregiver, call us. We will try to trouble-shoot any issues that may arise and if necessary, we’ll happily find you another Caregiver who is a better fit. HouseWorks understands that sometimes getting along is simply a matter of ‘chemistry.' Our focus is—and will always be—on finding the right kind of home care assistance to meet your family’s individual needs.

Yes, HouseWorks can help you find an elderly companion. While HouseWorks' staff is predominately comprised of Certified Nurse Assistants and Home Health Aides, we also provide companionship-only services. In fact, it can be very beneficial for your father to develop a relationship of trust with a Caregiver now, before he needs additional care. 

We understand how painful it can be to know that a beloved parent is lonely, and to feel that you cannot always be there. Our staff will take the time to get to know your parent in order to meet his needs appropriately. For example, if a game of checkers or listening to music together is satisfying, that’s what our Caregiver will do with your parent. If your father prefers to go out for a walk in a nearby park, our Caregiver can do that too. If your father likes being read to, or likes to sit quietly just knowing that someone else is nearby, HouseWorks can make that happen.

We tailor our companionship services to meet our clients’ needs, and we know that those needs may change over time. HouseWorks will make necessary adaptations along the way and communicate with you as we do so.

Hoarding is a serious problem, defined as a pattern of excessive acquisition of objects in one’s living space. It is a form of mental illness, not limited by physical or mental stamina.

Also described as ‘heavy cluttering,’ hoarding is a compulsive disorder that impacts a person’s health, safety and social interactions. Those who want to help a hoarder are often faced with a multitude of challenges that can strain the relationship.  

Ask for help.

HouseWorks has supported families in Greater Boston struggling with hoarding and heavy clutter for more than a decade. Oftentimes, it’s best to bring in outside assistance with the training to help hoarders, people who know exactly how to keep your loved one safe and at ease with the cleaning process. Call HouseWorks at (617) 928-1010—we can walk you through it. 

Start the cleanup process.

First, make a plan to break up the work into manageable phases.  Keep in mind that an overly aggressive approach to hoarding can backfire and make matters worse in the long run.  Try to engage your loved one as much as possible, and always be patient.  

Encourage them to donate as much as possible—knowing their treasured belongings will benefit others can make it easier to let go.  Objectively discuss ways in which the hoarding behavior is having a negative impact on the person’s life and talk about the visitors and activities they will be able to enjoy once the clutter has been reduced.

Again – managing a hoarding problem is difficult to do on your own. Ask for help. Look for resources in your area. HouseWorks is here to help. Please call if you need us.

For more information about hoarding from the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), click here.

 

Home care is a broad term that encompasses any service aimed at helping someone with health issues stay at home and out of the hospital. Private home care—or private duty home care—often refers to home care services that, while performed by a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or HHA (Home Health Aide), are not strictly medical in nature. HouseWorks provides numerous home health care services aimed at helping seniors 'age in place.'
 
This may include of a number of supports: 

Personal care (dressing, bathing, general help with morning routines)

Medication reminders and assistance

Cooking, cleaning, or helping with laundry

Supplemental support for end-of-life care or hospice 

Escorted transportation

Dementia-specific support (companionship, redirection, providing structure, and activities)

 
Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. Every home has some degree of clutter, whether it is knick-knacks on a shelf, books, papers, or hobby materials. Most people are able to keep their clutter under control. In homes with serious hoarding, however, there tends to be one or more rooms that cannot be used for their intended purpose because they are so heavily cluttered. This is a sign that intervention may be needed.
 
Hoarding: What it looks like
Hoarding is a pattern of excessive acquisition of objects in one’s living space. It is a form of mental illness, not limited to physical or mental stamina.
 

Signs that it’s more than just clutter:

Rooms and fixtures in the home too cluttered to be used for their intended purpose. 

Profound difficulty deciding what to keep and what to discard.

An unrealistic perception of the intrinsic value of one’s belongings. 

A cognitive disconnect or skewed perception of reality, not unlike that of a person with anorexia.

Deriving a sense of security and happiness from one’s clutter. 

Choosing “stuff” over the people who care for them. 

    Why do people hoard?
    Hoarders is a complex form of mental illness, not just poor housekeeping or time management. Hoarders suffer from a type of compulsive disorder and, as a result, find it much more difficult to manage their belongings. Hoarding is believed to be related to obsessive-compulsive disorders, although the exact causes and mechanisms are unknown. 
     
    Hoarders have profound difficulty deciding what to keep and what to discard and often have a skewed perception of the intrinsic value of their belongings. They feel a strong emotional bond with objects that most of us would only attribute to other humans or pets. Thus, hoarders find it significantly more difficult to let go of these objects and may experience grief when faced with their loss. Obsessive thoughts often plague hoarders and disposing of their 'possessions' can cause extreme anxiety. Loved ones may grow frustrated in their attempts to address hoarding issues, driving a wedge between hoarders and their families.
     
    HouseWorks can help

    HouseWorks has supported families in Greater Boston struggling with hoarding and heavy clutter for more than a decade. Oftentimes, it's best to bring in outside assistance with the training to help hoarders, people who know exactly how to keep your loved one safe and at ease with the cleaning process. Call HouseWorks at (617) 928-1010. We can walk you through it.

     

     

    With an elderly parent it can be hard to know where to begin, especially when the stakes are high and time is short. That said, there are many sources of information and advice available for seniors and their families in Greater Boston.

    Words to the Wise

    Get help from the start – from family, friends, and professionals. Resist the impulse to do it all yourself.

    Never rely on a single source of information or advice when making eldercare decisions.

    Expect at least one false start. Don’t rush to fix the problem.

    Listen to the experts, but trust your own judgment.

    Take control by writing everything down, prioritizing, and delegating just as you would in your professional life.

    Be present in the moment. Make time to “do nothing”.

    We can answer all your questions

    HouseWorks’ goal is to ease the challenges of aging so that our clients and their families can focus on those relationships, activities and interests that are most meaningful to them. If you think the time is approaching when you’ll need help – or if that day is already here – call us at 617-928-1010 or toll free at 800-928-3393. Our Case Managers are available round-the-clock to speak with you by phone. HouseWorks is also pleased to meet with you at home.

    Our Case Managers will walk you through the variety of elder care services we provide and can answer any questions you may have, including those related to cost. Moreover, matching clients with the right Caregiver is a huge part of what we do at HouseWorks. Our Case Managers will work with you one-on-one to lessen your burdens, problem-solve, and create order out of chaos. HouseWorks is here to guide you through the toughest parts of helping your parent to age-in-place.