For anyone with aging parents or loved ones, the prospect of finding someone to assist that person at home when the time comes can be a daunting task. Even before that time comes, convincing a parent that they need help at home is a challenge. Most elders resist anything that threatens their independence and they fundamentally do not want strangers in the house.
Sometimes an elder’s status will dramatically deteriorate to the point where they will need to be placed in a home or similar assisted living facility. The more typical and ideal situation, however, is for the elder to remain in his or her own home and have help come to them. Most studies indicate that the elderly overwhelming prefer to remain living at home.
Here are some issues to consider if you are tasked with trying to find the right care giver for your elder. Usually there are three major umbrella issues to consider: cost, competency and temperament.
Elders should be monitored to gauge when help should be added. Many folks, including spouses and adult children, procrastinate in this type of situation but they should not. If nothing else, spouses and adult children should start researching this issue as soon as possible so that they are ready when the time comes.
Professional vs. Non-Professional:
Sometimes a spouse or the adult children think they can be care givers and share the duties. The problem with this scenario is that it can be a very time consuming and stressful job that most spouses and adult children do not have the time or temperament for. Of course, spouses can help to some degree. Adult children, however, work and have families of their own. At the same time, the well-meaning spouse and adult children simply do not have the training for this kind of job. Studies have shown that even the most well intended adult children risk considerable anxiety, depression and resentment if they do this task. Most of the time, seeking a care giving professional is the wisest course of action.
Agency vs. Non-Agency:
Specialized companies have sprung up offering in home care services to seniors. As the population has aged, these agencies have proliferated. Among the advantages of an agency is that they are established, bonded, insured, licensed and have trained personnel. In addition, they have vetted their workers with extensive background checks. They can also replace a caregiver pretty quickly if the first caregiver has to withdraw for any reason, which is an important consideration for stability. Also, if something untoward happens, such as the caregiver stealing property, there is a remedy through the agency.
Of course, one disadvantage of an agency is that they are expensive. Since there are so many of them now, it also behooves one to do a background check on the agency itself as to reputation and longevity. Cost analysis of different agencies is also warranted.
If money is an issue, then trying to find an independent care giver is the other route but that requires a great deal of due diligence. If you place an ad or answer an ad, you will have to do your own background checks of candidates investigating everything from criminal records to drug addiction. You will need to also thoroughly check the caregiver qualifications and training as well as references. Even if it turns out that the caregiver is someone you know, that person should still be vetted. One should also revisit the elder’s home insurance policy to see what exactly is covered in this scenario if something disturbing occurs,
Try to find someone who combines skills with personality. If someone gets along with your elder but has skill deficiencies, that is not a good fit. Similarly, if someone has good job savvy but irritates the elder, that is not a favorable match.
Lastly, a spouse or adult child should be vigilant about monitoring a care giving situation, particularly if the elder has deteriorating mental issues. This applies whether the care giver is from an agency or is an independent. Spouses and adult children should be frequently monitoring the elder’s house and possessions, and keeping a close eye on finances.
It is also wise to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney when searching for elder care, as there are other issues that may come up depending on the individual situation.