It can be incredibly difficult for a senior to allow a stranger into his home to help with household tasks, personal care and/or transportation. There is a great deal of confusion and anxiety around what exactly “in-home care” and an “in-home caregiver” might involve and entail–not to mention how to go about hiring and supervising the help. Here are some suggestions for what seniors can expect from in-home care and some advice on how to search for the perfect assistant:
An in-home caregiver can have a variety of qualifications, depending on the depth and intensity of personal care they are able to provide. Some take care of household tasks and hep with errands and transportation, while others have medical credentials and are able to help with more medical details and nursing needs. The most popular services required of in-home caregivers for seniors include: assistance with mail and correspondence, housekeeping, laundry and ironing, help with grocery shopping and other errands, coordinating and reminding about medications, cooking and meal panning, transportation and mobility assistance, and companionship and other personal assistance needs.
Even seniors who may have special needs such as those who are recovering from an accident or illness, or those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or those with other more permanent disabilities can benefit from the services of an in-home care provider. A senior may need assistance on a daily or weekly basis, or something in between. It is not necessary to hire a caregiver to be present for every hour of every day if that is not what is needed or required.
Finding just the right caregiver to come into a senior’s home can take some time and effort. There are now companies and service providers who specialize in recruiting, training and providing appropriate in-home caregivers for seniors and their families. Start with your local Department of Human Services, Senior and Disables Services office, as they may have a list of companies and in-home care providers for you to investigate. You can also check with your local hospital(s), your physician, and/or your medical care provider or nurse. You may even be able to get some referrals from your friends or family members. Be sure you investigate and check the references and background of individuals (if you work with a company, they will do this for you). Some in-home care expenses and services may actually be covered by your medical insurance. A reputable company should provide you with an initial free consultation–be wary of someone who tries to convince you to hire someone without an interview and research, and be wary if you are encouraged to contract for serviced you don’t think you need. It is a good idea to get a trusted friend or family member to help you with your research and be sure to check more than one in-home care provider so you have a good idea of what is available in your area and you gather enough information to compare and make an educated decision.
Keep in mind that just because you choose and hire someone, that does not mean that you have to retain them forever. Your circumstances may change, or you may find yourself feeling that you didn’t find the right fit. It is important that a senior feels comfortable and safe with a reliable and competent in-home caregiver.