Caregiver Harbor Advice

You ARE Alone and You Need to Know Whom NOT to Trust
Frank Blood

You ARE Alone and You Need to Know Whom NOT to Trust

On my way to Caregiver Harbor, I learned something new about professional helpers and others – when you can trust them and when you definitely can’t. Here are some guidelines and my thoughts about intuition I use when choosing whom to trust and whom to disregard as self-promoters.

Caregivers stand alone when important decisions must be made. They are no different than CEOs in business. The adage, “It’s lonely at the top” applies to everyone who is responsible for the care of another just as surely as it applies to the one responsible for the entire operation of a corporation. No other person fully understands the actions and responses that occur in your situation and no one is able to make the big decisions for you. The choices and consequences are yours alone to deal with.

For example, consider someone who takes care of a person with dementia. Other caregivers of dementia patients may offer advice based on personal experience but they can only speak from basic knowledge. Each caregiver is an individual personality and understands all things through his or her unique perspective. Each dementia patient is likewise unique in his or her behavior. The combinations and permutations of personality types and solutions are endless. Only the one person closest to the problem and responsible to act is fit to choose what is best for both of them.


Is that your final decision?

Most of us are eminently qualified to make the major call for our loved ones but we don’t always feel confident and so we seek the advice of others. Also, we will find no shortage of family, friends, and professional helpers (both well-meaning and hucksters) who constantly remind us, “You aren’t alone.” But the truth is you are alone. Sure, you’ll get plenty of advice but you’ll still have to evaluate it and decide for yourself what is appropriate and what isn’t.

Before you can even begin to evaluate the counsel, you must determine if you can trust the advice-giver for your specific need. Family, friends, and clergy genuinely want to help and are certainly trustworthy people. But they may not be the right ones to advise you when a caregiving question is stumping you. They are by nature subjective and the direction they point you in is frequently based on their agenda; not yours. The wisest guidance might come from outside your circle of acquaintances because they can be objective. “How do I know if I can trust this advice?” is one of the more troubling questions caregivers ask themselves.

Caregivers are good people who look for the good in others. They usually give everyone the benefit of the doubt but they can be gullible when it comes to promises made by unscrupulous professional care providers. Elderly care is a highly competitive field and sometimes marketers will say whatever works to make a sale – truth or lie. I often remind myself of the story of the scorpion who convinced the frog to carry him across the river. Even though the scorpion promised not to sting the frog, he did because it was in his nature. It’s imperative for you to deal only with honorable businesses who care about your interests. Your loved one’s life may depend upon it.


Trust must be earned

Trust is something that is earned over time. It is a series of trials in which each successful performance strengthens your belief in the other’s abilities, integrity, and character. If you are looking for a new provider of services, a home care company, for example, you won’t be able to tell which one is trustworthy from a phone call or an interview. However, there are ways to tell which ones are untrustworthy. You can easily set up a series of statements for yourself before you begin your search. Ask open-ended questions and keep in mind that the purpose of the phone or in-person interview is to weed out the ones you don’t like first. Discovering the right service for you is much easier this way. For example:

I don’t trust people –

  • Who aren’t reliable with little things. (Show up late, waste my time, fail to return a call)
  • Who don’t display self-control. (Talk too much, exaggerate claims)
  • Who don’t show respect for others. (Complain, speak against competitors)
  • Who seem uncomfortable with compromising. (They must win, I must lose)
  • Whose actions are inappropriate.
  • Who avoid answering my questions.
  • Who ignore the one I provide care to.


Heed your intuition and walk away:

  • If you have a feeling you can’t trust them.
  • If they speak of exclusion rather than inclusion.
  • If they spend a lot of time trying to impress you.
  • If you sense they are hiding something.
  • If you simply don’t like them.


All who pass your “elimination test” become candidates. The real work begins when you negotiate with a group of candidates until you finally choose the one you think is right for you. But the nice thing is, no matter whom you chose, you didn’t go wrong because you were diligent in deselecting all the unacceptable prospects up-front and left yourself with only the best to pick from. 

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