As anyone who has helped take care of a senior or an elderly loved one can tell you, it’s not easy. Seniors face a lot of unique challenges later in life and family members are often left wondering how to make sure their loved one is being taken care of in the best way possible. One common way people do this is by doing it themselves. According to the AARP, about 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
For some people, unpaid caregiving for a loved
one is feasible. But if your loved one needs more specialized care as they get
older, or if the time you’re spending taking care of them is starting to take a
toll on your own wellbeing, it might be time to look into some of your options.
While some seniors need round-the-clock care for more serious illnesses or
diseases, many can get by with having a caregiver that comes directly to their
Picking a caregiver for your loved one can feel like a daunting, challenging task. Since most of us aren’t experts when it comes to senior care, it can be hard to know where to start when you decide to start looking into caregivers. Here are some great tips for hiring a great caregiver for your loved one.
Understand what your caregiving needs actually are
Before you even begin searching for a
caregiver for your loved one, it’s important to have a solid understanding for
what your caregiving needs really are. There are many different types of
caregivers who provide care in a variety of ways. By doing research and
figuring out exactly what your loved one needs, you will set them up for
long-term success. Here are some common reasons that people end up hiring
caregivers for their loved ones, if you’re having trouble getting started.
- Having someone to help with
driving around to various activities and errands
- Someone to help administer
- Someone to help with chores around
the house that are too difficult
- Someone to help cook, clean and do
laundry for seniors that can’t do it themselves
Doctors are also a great resource for coming
up with the specific needs of a particular senior and they can oftentimes
recommend specific types of caregivers that will be best for their situation.
Once you have a good understanding of your loved one’s needs, you are one step
closer to hiring a great caregiver.
Know what you can afford
Like most things in life, there are a variety
of prices for caregiving services, depending on how often you need them to be
around or the severity of the illness. Before starting your search in earnest,
take a good look at you and your family’s finances to determine how much you’ll
be able to spend. This becomes easier if you are splitting the cost with other
family members, and having this conversation with them sooner rather is best.
Explore each of your options
It may be tempting to go with the first
caregiving option that you research, and in some cases, this might be the
correct choice. But as with any other important medical decision, it is crucial
to explore each of the different options to make sure that you’re making the
best call for you or your loved one.
Once you decide on going with an agency or a
private caregiver, do your homework and get a sense for the pros and cons of
each option. There are many great resources online to help you do this, so
don’t feel like that just because you aren’t super familiar with caregiving
that you can’t educate yourself.
Keep open communication with your loved one
During this process, it may be easy to fall into a common trap that many have fallen into before: keeping your loved in the dark. In most cases, your loved one will know that you’re looking out for them and doing what you think is best for their overall help, but it’s important to keep them in the loop throughout the entire process if possible. After all, it’s their life, isn’t it?
This is especially important during the first
part of the process. For many seniors, the prospect of needing to hire someone
specifically to help them can be a little scary. Keeping honest, open
communication with your loved one will help reassure them that this is in their
best interest and that you won’t do make any decisions regarding their health
without their consent.
Make sure all of the stakeholders are on board
Just like keeping open communication with your
loved one is important, it’s also important to make sure that all of the
stakeholders are on board with each decision. Your family might have one person
who takes the lead on a lot of these things, but any close family members or
people who will help with the cost should be kept in the loop and have their
voices heard throughout the process. The fastest way to turn this situation
toxic is to keep family members in the dark during the process.
Conduct exhaustive interviews
Once you’re ready to start talking to actual
caregivers, you’ll want to make sure that you are as prepared as possible for
the interviews. Get everyone together with your loved one and come up with the
most important questions that you have for a potential caregiver. Here are some
of the main things you should look for when interviewing a potential caregiver.
- Personality fit: It goes without saying that picking someone with a personality that you and your loved one enjoy is important. This person is going to be spending a lot of time with your family and you want to make sure that you are on the same page personality-wise.
- Education, experience and credentials: Many caregivers have gone to school or taken classes for this career path, so during the interview, dig in a little bit to see what type of experience or education they have in the industry. Ask them about why they went to certain schools or programs – this will give you insight into whether or not they’re passionate about caregiving.
- References: Your ideal caregiver will hopefully have some references that can vouch for their work. Ask your potential candidates to share their contact information and give the references a quick call to discuss the candidate’s experience and past work. If someone refuses to share a reference, this could be a red flag.
- Background check: This person will be in your loved one’s home and life for the foreseeable future, so spend a little bit of extra money to run a background check on the person you decide to go with. If they have past arrests, especially while working in the caregiving field, this should give you pause. If the crime or results don’t seem particularly relevant to their work, you can ask them about it in a phone call and see what they say.
Use your best judgement, and trust your gut
At the end of the day, the process is going to
be long, tough and filled with ups and downs. But when push comes to shove,
trust your gut and pick the person that you think will be the best possible
caregiver for your loved one. It will be easy to consider the “what if”
scenarios after you hire someone, but our instincts are usually very reliable
so don’t be afraid to trust yourself. If you do your research, homework,
conduct a thorough interview and use your best judgement, the chances of hiring
a great caregiver for your loved one are extremely high.