Choosing a caregiver is a process that is stressful, challenging, and financially difficult.

Especially during these trying times with the Covid-19 virus, it is critical to take extra precautions whether you are searching for or have an existing caregiver, make sure to talk with the agency and caregiver to understand the specific precautions that they take when dealing with your loved one.  Precautions are necessary so make that a priority.

Most older adults will need help at some point, and a caregiver can allow many older adults to remain at home where they can thrive.  When it is time to consider a caregiver to be open and receptive and prepared is key,  do not hesitate to make that decision when the time is right.

Though it can be overwhelming, being prepared, and understanding what to look for will help you to have a much better chance of finding the right fit.  Finding a caregiver who is right for your loved one can make a positive impact, and finding a loving caregiver can make all the difference.  I speak from experience; the journey can be hard, and if you are not prepared and know what to expect, it can impact the outcome.  Being prepared and having open communication is crucial in ensuring you are getting the quality care your loved one deserves.

By deciding to find a caregiver seriously, you’re already halfway toward choosing the right caregiver for your loved one.

When you start your search, here are a few things to keep in mind that can help:

  • Assess your needs. You need to understand what care is required. Does your loved one require attention for daily functions, which includes help with walking, showering, getting dressed?   Do they need help with meals and cooking, or do they need help with appointments, medication?  Prepare a list of what is required and develop a care plan that will help not only the Agency but also you to make sure that the essential needs are met.
  • Communication is essential, and from experience, my advice is to involve others who can help you navigate through the process. Helping my parents through this difficult journey has been crucial to ensuring that they do not feel alone and that my siblings and I can help to guide them through the process.  It was helpful for us that we all have diverse backgrounds; my sister was able to work with the home health agencies and doctors, even sitting in phone calls during appointments.  My brother was a great help on the financial implication, and my background in Healthcare was essential to understand what benefits were covered.   You may not have similar expertise, but if you talk together as a family, you can find out how each of you can complement each other to help out.
  • Determine where to look. Many Home Health Agencies provide daily care, but you have options, though you may hire through an agency, others may decide on an individual to provide care.   There are positives and negatives to either choice.  While Agencies cost more, they have more flexibility to find someone who works best for you; the caregivers typically are certified, they also provide on-demand support.  If you look to hire outside of an Agency, there are cost savings, but it also makes you the boss to engage and make sure that they are doing their job.  We have used a combination of both simply because we were able to communicate and work as a family to find someone we could hire independently, but this required a family member to meet with, interview, and watch the interaction with our loved one.
  • Get a background check; there is nothing wrong with asking the Agency to do a background check, but if you decide on an independent hire, then do your due diligence. Ask for references, meet with them, and ask detailed questions.
  • Ask what training your caregiver has; this is a crucial part of ensuring you are hiring someone who can not only do the basic needs but has the ability to address any emergencies (CPR or basic First Aid). If you are working through an agency, requirements differ from state to state.   You can inquire about your States Certification by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging at the following link.
  • Meet with the potential caregivers, do an interview, you want to make sure that they are compatible with you and your loved one.  Once you have selected a caregiver, supervise the process.  Make sure that the caregiver is doing their job and that they stay a good fit with your loved one and are following the care plan you worked out.  I suggest that you have a trusted friend or family member come in on occasion to observe.   We did this, and though it took time, we were able to make sure that we found the best of care.
  • Research Your Healthcare costs.  Find out what your coverage is for Personal Home Care Services, it is helpful to know what services are covered.  Medicaid is Federally mandated to cover Personal Home Care Services, but Medicare is not.  But what are the specific services covered?  You should reach out to your Health plans Customer Service to determine coverage.  If working through an Agency, they will be able to help you coordinate the process to avoid unexpected costs.

Do your due diligence and make the right decision for you, but be flexible to make changes if needed.

A challenging time but a time to help and care for your loved one.   Comment below.