As your loved one gets older, you may find that they are starting to need more help with things like grocery shopping, meal preparation, bathing, transportation to appointments, medication management, etc. It may be something that family members can assist with in the beginning, but sometimes your loved one’s needs may exceed what family and friends can provide.
A caregiver may be a right fit for someone that needs extra help in the home. It may be the difference between someone being able to “age in place”, or stay in their current home, versus having to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Caregivers may work as little as 4 hours a week or can provide 24 hour assistance.
There are a variety of ways to find the right caregiver for your loved one. We recommend two ways to start your research.
- Word of mouth. Ask around at work, at church, your community. Chances are, you can find someone who has worked with a caregiver in the past and can refer you to a good candidate or agency.
- Government Agency websites – these websites tend to be objective and can steer you toward useful resources and information on a local basis, where you live. Some good resource websites include:
Department of Health & Human Services – Administration on Aging
- Click on ‘Elders & Families’
- Search by zip code or topic
Family Caregiver Alliance
- Search under tab ‘Caregiving Info & Advice’
- Click on ‘Family Care Navigator: State-by-State Guide
- Enter zip code for local chapter
- Resources including training and education
You should interview a few candidates to find the right fit for your loved one. Here are a few questions to ask potential candidates and/or agencies:
- Ask for references.
- Do they have experience working with older adults?…with dementia?…with issues specific to your loved one?
- Have they been trained on proper techniques for transferring (getting someone from a wheelchair to bed), stair climbing, using equipment (hospital beds, lifts, etc.)?
- Do they have a driver’s license and reliable transportation?
- Have they had any injuries (back) in the past that may limit them from being able to fully assist someone that needs more physical assist?
- What duties are they willing to do and what are they not willing to do? I.E. housekeeping, cooking, transportation to doctor’s appointments, medication administration, etc.
- Make sure you have a written agreement highlighting the hourly or daily rate the caregiver charges and have a clear expectation of their duties.
Remember that caregivers are your employees. Do your homework and ask lots of questions.