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Choosing a Caregiver

Sometimes the best way the elderly can stay in their home is to hire a caregiver, but how do you know if they can take care of your needs?

If your family is considering hiring a caregiver, the first step is to see what kind of caregiver you need. There are two basic choices for a caregiver: a home health aide or a home care aide. A home health care aide or a personal care assistant provides personal care (i.e.: bathing, grooming, etc.); assists with basic exercises, and provides some medically related care (i.e.: empty colostomy bags, dress dry wounds, check blood pressure, etc.); and provides assistance with housekeeping and errands. A home care aide or a homemaker provides companionship, socialization, and assists with meal preparation, housecleaning, laundry, shopping and errands.

“The level of care the person requires determines who should be providing the home care and what it will cost,” says Mary Hujer, MSN, a gerontological clinical nurse specialist in Cleveland, Ohio.

Before searching for an aide, download the National Caregiver Library’s Needs Assessment Checklist. It will help determine the level of care your loved one will need. It will also help you write out and establish the caregiver’s duties. It may also lead to your decision to hire a caregiver independently or through a home care agency.

The benefits of hiring a caregiver through an agency is that they have been screened, trained, and will be supervised. By hiring through an agency, you get access to everything that agency offers. For example, you will be provided with a back-up caregiver if yours cannot make it, and all the administrative duties like taxes, reimbursement forms, payroll, etc. are handled by the agency so it can be a stress free process. When you hire independently, you have to do all the screening, interviewing, coordination of care, supervision, and all administrative paperwork. By hiring independently you’re able to hire someone you already know and in the end you might pay a little less as well. (For more on making this decision, click here.)

Talk with your or your loved ones primary care physician or nurse; your local aging or senior center; hospital social work departments; your religious community; and friends and neighbors to see who they would recommend as a caregiver or agency.

Additional Resources

AARP:  Needs Assessment Checklists

Administration on Aging: How Do I Hire a Home Care Employee?

American Geriatrics Society: Eldercare at Home

Family CaregiverAlliance: Hiring In-Home Help

National Institute on Aging: There’s No Place Like Home – For Growing Old

Mayo Clinic: Home Care Services: Questions to Ask

Veterans Administration: Aide and Attendant Benefit Where and How to Find Community Resources

Caring Connections: Caring for Someone