Adult children who provide care and support for aging parents often find themselves short of time and energy to do it all. Hiring in-home help, when the resources are available, can be a solution.
Whether hiring through a licensed agency or seeking outside help through personal networks of family, friends and co workers, this often being a less expensive option, some basic rules of thumb apply:
Find out what credentials the caregiver has. Does she have CPR and first aid training, or any other health-care training and credentials?
Realize that elderly or ill family members tend to become dependent on and emotionally attached to their caregivers, making it difficult to keep things strictly business.
It is important to designate a family member who can manage the hiring and ongoing care relationship in a businesslike manner.
Family members should prepare a care protocol or clear job description for the in-home worker and meet regularly to evaluate the care being provided.
Define the tasks that need to be performed by the caregiver, and make sure that she is willing and able to do them. Will the caregiver need to help with bathroom and grooming duties? Meal planning and housecleaning? Feeding and administering medicines? Make sure the contract includes a precise job description that everyone can live with.
Ask your family physician about getting in-home help, or consult a public health nurse. These professionals should be able to put you in touch with reputable home-care services.
Find out if part or all of the cost of in-home health care may be covered by your private or government insurance plan.
Ask if your local Area Agency on Aging chapter provides home help services, or can recommend a reputable provider.
Talk to people from groups or organizations that support people with particular health conditions - such as Parkinson's or diabetes. They may be able to recommend caregivers who specialize in helping people with these conditions.
Check references carefully before you hire an individual to provide home care. Also get a criminal record check if possible.
While rates for people hired on a private basis are usually negotiable, it is the family’s responsibility to seek references and comply with all IRS regulations regarding deductions for social security and worker’s compensation.