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Tips for Choosing a Caregiver for a Senior

Nov 14th 2015 at 4:48 AM

Of the one out of five elders who have attained age 85, more than half are impaired and need long-term care, the personal assistance that enables them to perform daily routines such as eating, bathing, and dressing.


Most people want to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. For those who are elderly and have disabilities, that may be possible only with outside help.

Most people who need help with their daily activities rely on unpaid care provided to them by family members and friends. More and more, however, seniors and their families are recognizing the benefits of hiring caregivers, to help stay in their homes longer, in comfort and safety, and to give families peace of mind. Likewise, many states and the federal government are now setting aside some funds to allow people who otherwise could not afford it to pay for outside help.


Assess your home-care needs.  Evaluate the help that is needed in the areas of health care, personal care, and household care. Do you need home health care, such as physical therapy or medication management? Do you need non-medical personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing, toileting, and meal preparation, or are you looking mainly for a companion or sitter? Do you need help with housecleaning, shopping, home maintenance, and running errands, or with bill-paying and managing your money?


Write a job description.  Write out a job description based on the help that is needed


Develop a job contract.  The job contract is based on the job description and should include:

  • Wages; when and how payment will be made
  • Hours of work
  • Employee's Social Security number (because you must report wages paid to the caregiver to the Internal Revenue Service)
  • Job description
  • Unacceptable behavior (such as smoking, abusive language, tardiness, etc.)
  • Termination (how much notice, reasons for termination without notice, etc.)
  • Dated signatures of employee and employer.


Know where to look for a caregiver. Identify the pool from which you can find a caregiver. You may have neighbors or friends who would be good prospective caregivers. If you belong to a church, ask your pastor or minister for prospects.


Prepare for the interview. Prepare a list of questions to ask. Have a list for any applicant, caregiver agency, referral source, or reference you may call during your search.


Interview applicants. After you have screened applicants on the telephone, you should interview in person those who sound acceptable. Invite a friend or family member to sit in on the interview to provide a second opinion. Always observe interactions between the worker and the person who will be receiving care.


Check references. It is important to check references carefully, talking to everyone who is given as a reference.


Get a criminal background check.  People who are paid by state funds usually must always pass a criminal background check.


Hire thoughtfully.  You want to hire a caregiver who has experience in the specific areas in which you need help


Monitor.  Set up a schedule to monitor the quality of the services the caregiver provides. This is especially important for family members. Do this by making personal contact with the caregiver and regular home visits with the elder, and getting periodic reports from the caregiver and the agency.


Have a backup plan in case the caregiver or the agency fails to follow through or problems arise. Lastly, watch for signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and report suspicious activity to the agency and state authorities.



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