Whether you or a loved one needs in-home assistance due to illness, injury, aging or other circumstances, finding the right caregiver is an important and often challenging process. Many people choose to find their own attendants, while others turn to home health care agencies or private referral sources for help with the search. Regardless of the route you take, it is vital to interview applicants together, if possible, and to be clear and honest about what your loved one needs in an aide.
Local Area Agency on Aging offices, home health agencies and faith communities can provide referrals for a variety of options for in-home attendant care. You can also learn about available options by using Medicare’s online tool, Home Health Compare. Other useful resources include the Family Caregiver Alliance, which provides a personalized caregiver resource portal.
Begin by asking for referrals from friends and family members. Chances are someone you know has a friend or family member who uses a home care provider for their elderly parent. These recommendations are a great source of information because you can be sure that the person making the recommendation has not been paid to endorse their services.
Ask your loved ones what kind of in-home care they require, including specific duties they would like the aide to perform and how frequently the tasks should be performed (such as weekly housekeeping or driving them to doctor appointments). If your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other conditions that impair their memory, make notes about what they typically forget and need assistance with. You might want to consider a caregiver with additional training in those conditions, as well.
If your loved one is resistant to the idea of an attendant, try gently suggesting that it might be easier for them if they had someone with whom they could establish a close relationship. Explain that hiring an attendant does not signal that they are giving up their independence. Also, encourage them to be open to an attendant who may not share their cultural background or language and note that great attendants come from all walks of life.
A direct hire agency can match you with a pre-screened caregiver for a fee. This option can offer more flexibility with scheduling and services, but also carries greater responsibility for hiring and managing your attendant. If you go this route, be sure to check references carefully and consider conducting a criminal background and reference checks for yourself.
Lastly, be open to the possibility that you might be able to get financial assistance to pay for your in-home attendant care. AARP lists some ways to get help, and you can learn more by visiting your local Area Agency on Aging or contacting your state department of social services. Some states have special programs for seniors who need attendant care, and local faith communities often provide lower cost services through volunteers or specialized funding. You can also find helpful resources through the National Institute on Aging. find a caregiver