Do you, or does a loved one, need a little help with day-to-day tasks? For those who plan to age in place, a professional caregiver can be essential. Here are some tips for choosing the best person for the job.
As you grow older, daily tasks like bathing and dressing get more and more difficult. Age-related medical conditions worsen, and you may need help that untrained friends and family aren’t able to provide. For some people who need round-the-clock medical care, a nursing home could be the only option. But many prefer the independence and flexibility of remaining at home and hiring a professional caregiver.
What is a caregiver?
If “caregiver” sounds like a vague term, that’s because it is. It’s often applied to any friends or relatives of the senior who help them with daily tasks for free — and these “assistants” may or may not live with them. But it can also be applied to professional housekeepers who specialize in working with the elderly. These caregivers will be able to provide almost no medical help and are only there for what senior care professionals call ADLs: activities of daily living. However, caregivers also include nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.
How do I find a caregiver?
It’s common for people looking for home help to go through informal circles first, asking family and friends for recommendations as they would for a babysitter. But unlike a babysitter, you will see your caregiver every day and their job duties may increase over time. That’s why it’s important to keep your hiring process on a business footing. Hiring a friend of a friend may become awkward if you have to reprimand your caregiver. The best course of action is to create an ad with a detailed description of duties and post it in the newspaper and on job boards, or to go through a trusted agency. The AARP offers further advice.
What questions should I ask during an interview?
Hopefully, qualified people will respond to your ad, which places you in the role of hiring manager. Here are some questions you shouldn’t neglect to ask.
- How much can you lift? If you need assistance moving, your caregiver will have to be able to bear your weight.
- What are your qualifications? Different types of nurse are qualified to provide different types of medical aid. Find out whether the candidate is a CNA, an LPN or an RN.
- Do you have a valid driver’s license? Even if you can get around now, having another driver in your household can be helpful.
- May I contact your previous employer? Always check references carefully.
- What hours can you work? Make sure the caregiver’s schedule works with yours.
Choosing a caregiver who is qualified is important, but so is selecting one whom you trust. If you’re not looking on your own behalf, make sure the senior in question is involved. Make sure you have a good feeling about the person whom you decide to hire.