What You Should Know about Hiring a Caregiver for the Elderly

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/10/2018

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If your aging loved one is coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer, stroke, or another disabling condition, you may find that she can no longer live safely or easily on her own. She may need help with the most basic tasks of life, from going to the toilet to getting dressed. If you don’t have the time or ability to become her caregiver, you may have to hire a caregiver for your elderly relative. Since this caregiver will be responsible for your loved one’s health and safety, as well as have access to your loved one’s home, you want to make a careful hiring decision.

What caregivers for the elderly do

Before you hire a caregiver for the elderly, determine what type of tasks you need the caregiver to perform. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a caregiver could:

  • Shop for groceries
  • Help clients pay bills or manage money
  • Arrange transportation
  • Prepare meals
  • Perform housekeeping, such as making beds and washing dishes
  • Do laundry
  • Help clients bathe and dress
  • Help clients go to the bathroom
  • Transfer clients from the bed to the wheelchair
  • Talk to clients and play games with them

Many caregivers are relatively untrained and provide little or no medical services. If your loved one needs medical care at home, you may have to ask a doctor to order home health care. According to Medicare.gov and BLS, home health staff may:

  • Check vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature and heart rate
  • Administer medications
  • Check the diet of the elderly person
  • Coordinate care by communicating with the elderly person’s doctor

According to Medicare.gov, skilled home health services could include:

  • Wound care
  • Injections
  • Monitoring serious illnesses

Depending on your loved one’s needs, you may have seek services from more than one caregiver: one to perform household tasks and one to perform medical tasks.

How to find a caregiver for the elderly on your own

You could hire a caregiver on your own by employing a family member, asking for a referral, employing someone you know, or posting an advertisement online. If your hire a caregiver on your own, you should consider:

  • Is this person drug-free?
  • Is this person healthy? Can he pass a Tuberculosis test?
  • Does this person have reliable transportation?
  • Can this person pass a background check?
  • Can this person communicate clearly with my loved one?

Thoroughly interview and background check your caregiver so you don’t hire someone who comes to your loved one’s home under the influence of drugs or alcohol or who doesn’t show up at all. Communicate very clearly with the person you hire what your requirements and expectations are. If you want a caregiver with basic medical skills, you may try to hire someone who is studying to become or who is a fully certified nursing assistant (CNA) or home health aid (HHA). Certification requirements for CNAs and HHAs vary by states, but these certifications may include training in CPR, nutrition, and infection control, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep in mind that if you hire on your own, you may also be responsible for payroll tax and insurance.

How to find a caregiver for the elderly through an agency

A caregiving agency may hire a caregiver to work on your behalf. Interview the agency, or several agencies, and determine if you can trust and work well with them. The agency may:

  • Create a custom home plan to meet your needs
  • Find you a caregiver to specifically meet your needs, such as one with a background in Alzheimer’s care
  • Conduct a background check on the caregiver and give him training
  • Make unannounced visits to your loved one’s home to check on the caregiver
  • Find coverage for your caregiver if he is sick, on vacation, or otherwise unable to work

Working through an agency may cost more than finding a caregiver on your own since there are more administrative costs.

Do you need more information about finding a caregiver for the elderly? If you have any questions, we’re here to help. To get help over the phone or by email, use the links below to have me contact you. If you’d like to browse Medicare plan options on your own, just use the Compare Plans buttons on this page.

 

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