If you have an older relative in need of care, it can be challenging to meet their needs. How do you continue to meet your own responsibilities while providing care? What if you have a job or young children? What if the physical and emotional burden of caring for an older relative is too much for you to manage full-time?
If you have asked these questions, you are not alone. These questions and others have led many people to decide to hire caregivers to help meet the needs of their older relatives. Now the most important question of all. What should you look for in a caregiver? You want your family member to receive the best care. To ensure this, always take the following into consideration.
1. Assess the Level of Care You Need
First, will you need part-time or full-time care for your family member? What about overnights? Both of these are important as they have a big impact on the cost of care. Caregivers will also need to know what your expectations are in terms of availability.
You must also consider the level of medical intervention that you will need. Will your family member need help to manage their medications? Do they need help moving or attending to personal care needs? What about more complex medical needs such as special machinery or lifts? Work with other family members, and your loved one to help assess these needs.
2. Make a List of the Tasks You’ll Need to Be Performed
Once you know the level of care your family member needs, you can begin to create a list of the tasks you will need the caregiver to complete. As you write the list consider a timeline. Which tasks do you need to be done daily, which can be done on a weekly basis, and which can be done less frequently or ‘as needed’? Your list might look something like this:
- Administer morning and evening meditations.
- Help with bathroom and personal care tasks as needed.
- Fix breakfast, lunch, and a light afternoon snack.
- Ensure that the client has water or tea available at all times.
- Help with bathing (sponge bath daily is fine) along with dry shampoo and shave.
- Play card/board games. Help clients find television shows as desired.
- Do laundry as needed.
- Wash dishes and other housework.
- Accompany to the grocery store and assist with high/large items. Log amount spent.
- Transport client to weekly activity at a senior center.
- Transport to weekly cardiology appointment. Take notes for the patient.
- Transport to mass on Saturday evenings.
- Vacuum and mop all floors.
- Wash sheets and duvet.
- Provide transportation to other activities and appointments.
- Light duties as requested by the client.
3. Determine the Licensing Agency for Caregivers in Your Area
If the caregiver is providing companionship and duties such as light housekeeping, they may not need to be licensed. However, any caregiver who is providing any type of medical assistance should be licensed. Find who the licensing agency is for elderly caregivers in your area. Then, be certain that anyone you consider for this position is qualified and licensed. Finally, anyone who cares for an elderly family member in any capacity should be trained in basic first aid and CPR.
4. Will You Hire Directly?
You have two options for hiring an elderly caregiver. The first is to hire someone directly. In this case, you will need to write a clear and complete job listing. This is to attract the best and most qualified candidates. This is an important job, and you might consider hiring professional writers to complete your listing. If you do this, you may feel as if you have more control over the entire process. That can help you feel more confident in your final choice. The downside is that the hiring process is difficult and intimidating.
Your second option is to go through an agency. There are several that specialize in placing caregivers with elderly clients. There benefits to doing this. The agency will take care of placing the ad and finding a suitable caregiver. They are qualified to source licensed caregivers who are able to give your relative the care they deserve. On the other hand, you will pay a fee for this service.
5. Be Prepared to Conduct a Background Check
Anyone you consider for this job should be subjected to a thorough background check. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. For your peace of mind and the safety of your relative, conduct a background check. If you use an agency, they will do this for you. If you do it yourself, contact your local law enforcement office. They will help you determine how to begin this process. If a potential caregiver is hesitant to submit to a background check, that should be a red flag.
6. Include the Older Relative if Possible
Nobody wants to be left out of decisions that impact their lives. It is extraordinarily important to include your family members in these decisions. If they are capable of providing input or expressing preferences, they should be allowed to do so. More importantly, you should respect and comply with these preferences unless doing so would create a dangerous or harmful situation.
If your family member is not able to contribute to this decision, you can still ensure the process is as reassuring and safe as possible. Take the time to introduce the caregiver to your family member. Teach the caregiver about the family member’s likes, dislikes, and preferences. This will ensure that your family member is as comfortable as they can be.
7. Be Prepared to Monitor the Caregiver
Safety is the priority. Any good caregiver will understand this. There are several things that you can do to ensure that your relative is getting the care and attention they deserve, and to ensure that nothing is amiss. These include:
- Talking to your family members and listening to any concerns they have.
- Placing video cameras as allowed by the law.
- Dropping by unannounced while the caregiver is present.
- Monitoring your family members’ finances and ensuring that no items are missing.
Remember that the vast majority of caregivers are wonderful people who are invested in treating their clients with respect. Still, you must be vigilant about watching out for your family member’s best interests.
There’s no doubt that hiring a caregiver for an elderly family member is a big responsibility. You want to hire someone who will care about your relative as you do, and who can provide you some respite from the daily tasks of eldercare. By following the seven tips listed above, you can find the perfect caregiver for your loved one.