How to Find the Right Caregiver for Your Parent
By Tracy Layden
Mom was always there for you. Even after you moved out, you turned to her for comfort, support and advice. But now that you're both older, she's started to need more of your help.
It's hard to acknowledge that Mom is no longer able to properly take care of herself. Even harder? Realizing you can no longer help her on your own.
Moving Mom (or Dad) to a nursing home doesn't have to be the next step. There are many options for in-home care that extend your parents' time in their own house.
Assess the Needs
Before you can hire a caregiver, you need to identify what type of help Mom or Dad needs. The four main types of care are:
Personal: bathing, dressing, eating and hygiene-related tasks.
Household: cleaning, cooking, shopping, doing the laundry and chores around the house.
Health care: medication management and administration, physical therapy and everyday care.
Emotional: companionship, conversation, activities and simply being there.
Make a list of the tasks your parent needs help with and how often he or she needs them. Do you need somebody to stay with your parent full-time or only while you're at work?
Decide on the Type of Caregiver Needed
Not every caregiver can do everything. There are varying levels of certification and training that home health care agencies can offer:
Companions. Companions are not allowed to perform any hands-on assistance, but can help around the house, be there for company and provide transportation.
Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs). CNAs are able to do everything a companion does, plus hands-on care like bathing, dressing and hygiene.
Nurses. Nurses provide the widest range of duties. They can do everything that companions and CNAs can, plus medical duties like handling medication, caring for wounds, changing catheters and applying ointments.
Once you know what you need, the game's afoot: finding the perfect caregiver. There are three places to start:
Do the search yourself. You can take matters into your own hands. Place ads on Craigslist, in the newspaper or on other local listing services. Look for highly rated caregivers in online directories. You can also reach out to your social network, both in person and online.
Use a home health care agency. Find a reputable agency that can help you find caregivers that fit you and your mom. You will have access to their network and advice.
Look for government-provided social services. Medicare, Medicaid and local government may provide specialized services. This can include specialized care as well as transportation.
As Mom or Dad's care needs increase, you are likely to require more than one caregiver. Feel free to mix and match services to get her what she needs. No matter how you find your caregivers, make sure they are properly licensed and insured.
Take Your Time
You want Mom or Dad to be on the same page as you when it comes to hiring caregivers. The best caregivers are not only talented at their jobs, but are people your parent gets along with and wants to see.
With the right mix of caregivers, you will know that Mom or Dad is in good hands, even when you aren't there. It's not necessary to go from being Mom or Dad's only caregiver to moving your parent into a nursing home. With you and the caregivers working together, your parent may be able to age at home at least a little while longer.
Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.