Tag Archive: Home Attendant


File under: Pet Peeves; conversation overheard.

Her Dad is 95, living alone in New Jersey and has appointment to see a specialist about a serious medical diagnosis and his Home Attendant, who is from Senegal, is to accompany him.

From Utah, Pam, the daughter, one of four siblings who rotate in regularly and is charged as his health proxy, calls the morning of the appointment to find out that their main Home Attendant has taken an unscheduled vacation which the agency did not notify her of and with an hour to go, her dad is with this newcomer and still not up, dressed and fed. Livid but trying to remain cordial, she asks to speak to the replacement Attendant, Temish – who is from Ghana. She wonders to herself why the Agency sends no candidates from The States who can speak better English and are assimilated into American culture these days. A fight with them is for a future day. For now, the appointment is crucial.

When she tells the new Attendant of the magnitude of the appointment and how they have to be picked up in an hour, all the replacement says is, “
I know. I know…” This is one of Pam’s pet peeves and the following conversation ensues:

“This is an important appointment.
I know.
You guys are getting picked-up in an hour.
I know.
The sky is blue gaga today.
I kn-n-n… (stuttering ensues)”

“Stop saying ‘I know’! If you knew, then you’d be up and Dad would ‘know’ he has an appointment. He is still not up, has not eaten breakfast and doesn’t remember this.
Never say to me, ‘I know’ – better to say “I understand” and then do not fear asking questions for further guidance.
Nobody “know” all, especially since you’re not from here in The States. Nobody “know” all who cannot be educated – not even me. With my Dad I can help you with and I must help you hear me – to know him and our customs better. Do you understand?”
[silence]

“I don’t know you, Temish
So to me, your mind is like and bread box with half of a loaf inside.
To me you know nothing of our ways.”
[more silence]

“I used to say, “I know…” to the elders who tried to teach me when I was growing up right there where you are right now. It is like a mental block by a stubborn child who does not want to hear nor be taught.
Except that now, adult-looking people use it as a crutch when they come to our country, trying to hold onto their own culture and not assimilate into the western lifestyle, while not admitting it. In your case, it is dismissive of me trying to help.
So, Never say, ‘I know’ because you likely don’t know. Instead, think of something to ask or add as a reply to the conversation – and with that, you will complete the communication.”
“Okay.” (progress?)

Be part of something diverse, positive and big and remember you heard it first here from me and our Geriatric Care Manager.

AS we Baby Boomers age, we go full circle, manage or outright care for our elders. They call it “Care-Giving” now and increasingly men/sons participate. No brag/just fact.

“Although women still make up the majority of family caregivers, more and more men are stepping into the role: Some 40% of family caregivers are now men, according to the most recent research from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, up from 33% a decade ago.” **

This topic is now a cottage industry and an issue so far neglected by those who would be our next President of the United States. As a Black American, it seems many of these agencies just want to send people who “look like” us to care for our parents, who are Octogenarian and Septuagenarian. These folks from third world counties, like Haiti and Africa, may need work and have good intentions, however their language, communication and assimilation skills leave much to be desired ninety percent of the time, in my experience. “Ask for what you want, and I’ll try my best to get it” should be the agency’s mantra.

Our hard working and lovely Irish, Italian, Jewish and other historically European-based ethnic groups call their own elder care-giver shots. Often they have long money or can acquire it from overseas to pay one thirty-five ($35) dollars an hour. Yet, when a middle class black American family, whose parents were maybe first or second generation college grads and civil servants of modest means makes a similar request of an MLTC (managed long term care) provider, we are often met with the insinuation that we are out of line, unseemly or even “intolerant” for asking that, when nothing could be further from the truth. Wanting to plug in someone superficially shows lack of real effort and imagination; “It don’t necessarily work like that!”

We too are exercising our personal family rights to have people who we feel comfortable with caring for our parents and, at least in my case, that does not automatically deem them black or brown-skinned, but it does require them to speak understandable English and preferably be from America as opposed to Haiti, Jamaica or Africa!

So these companies might as well treat me like a “white guy” then, because I’m going to ask for an Aide in-keeping with who my Mum is and the diverse values she raised me with, prior to when we let so many third world people into America to treat us, native descendant of American slaves, with disdain. You try to coach them up and they mostly reply, “Oh I know, I know” when they don’t “know” and are either too arrogant or ashamed to admit it, so that they can open the doors to empathy and learning!

When managing my own Mum’s Caregiver team (some call it “advocating for”, which is cool…) comes up in conversations that we Baby Boomers increasingly share these days, I often get the reply, “Oh you’re such a good son!”
“What else would I do? Turn my back to she who changed my diapers and gave me tough love??”, Is my response. Do people actually DO that?

If one accepts less, the system will continue to feed you less, until you accept less as the norm! Start demanding more, higher standards as were common in the 1960s, ’70 and eighties before the dumb-them-down era of President George H.W. Bush (the first).

**pickhit: stat courtesy Grace Gedye, Washington Monthly, July/August 2019

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