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Finding the Best Personal Caregiver

finding-the-best-personal-caregiverAs of 2035, there will be approximately 40 million Americans between ages 71 to 89, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This represents an unprecedented shift in demographics, one that will create equally unprecedented outcomes. For instance, the agency predicts this increase in seniors will put unparalleled stress on the nation’s healthcare system. Additionally, there won’t be enough senior living facilities to accommodate those who need them. The infrastructure simply is not in place. In fact, one study shows that by 2021, there will likely be 20 percent fewer nursing homes operating than are now doing business.

It should come as no surprise to learn then that many seniors are already considering alternatives to nursing homes, including hiring a personal caregiver to provide in-home care. If you or a loved one are thinking about choosing a private nurse instead of transitioning into a nursing facility, here are some important things to look for when considering a caregiver.

Choosing a Personal Nurse

Whether you’re choosing a personal caregiver for yourself or a loved one, there are steps to take to help ensure you will find the best candidate available.

Determine the Level of Care Needed

Take into account any mobility challenges and health concerns you or your family members face. Depending on the severity of those challenges, the level of care needed might range from simply requiring some occasional assistance to needing a private nursing provider around the clock.

Screening and Selecting

You want to make sure the person you invite into your home is reputable and reliable. Fortunately, the internet has many online resources to consult when looking for a personal caregiver.  Here are just a few to consider:

  • Eldercare Locator is an online database hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service offering an extensive roster of services and agencies focused on senior living. The site includes an in-depth listing of agencies that work with home healthcare providers, which can be searched by ZIP
  • Caring.com includes and comprehensive directory of in-home senior care providers as well as long-term residential care facilities.
  • AARP hosts a caregiver resource page devoted entirely to answering many commonly-asked caregiver The site also offers an online calculator to help you estimate average caregiver costs in your area based on ZIP codes.

Online research is a great starting point, but be sure to reach out to healthcare professionals, family members and friends for referrals.

Once you have compiled a list of potential candidates, interviews should follow. As you research your names, find out if the caregivers are associated with agencies. Some caregivers may only be connected to registries. There is a difference. Typically, registries conduct no research into the caregivers they advertise. Agencies, on the on the other hand, generally recruit, screen, train and hire they caregivers they represent. Additionally, agencies bond their caregivers, manage their taxes and serve as conduits between caregivers and clients should concerns arise.

If you elect to work with an agency, before interviewing the caregiver, it is a good idea to “interview” the agency as well. Find out the following important information:

Quality

  • Is your agency licensed by the state?
  • Are you Medicare-certified and meet federal health and safety requirements?
  • How do you screen your caregivers?
  • Are they licensed?
  • Do you train your employees?
  • Can you offer employee references?
  • What are the aide’s or personal caregiver’s credentials?
  • How do you monitor your employees to make sure they’re providing quality care?

Billing and Expenses

  • How do you bill?
  • Which expenses are covered by health insurance and Medicare?
  • Does the agency offer financial assistance, such as payment plans, if needed?

Working Together

  • If we come to an agreement, will I receive a written care plan before services begin?
  • Can I get a patient’s bill of rights in order to understand my rights and responsibilities, as well as yours?
  • Do you have emergency procedures caregivers follow in case of natural disasters?
  • How do we resolve problems? Is there a resolution process?
  • Who do we contact for special requests—the agency or personal nurse?

Interviewing the Caregiver

Regardless of whether you hire a caregiver through an agency or you select someone you have found through a referral or on your own, you should next interview the caregiver.

Consider asking the following questions:

Get The Basics

  • Do you have reliable transportation?
  • Would you be comfortable driving me (or my loved one) in my car to appointments?
  • Will you be able to work the hours required?
  • Do you have responsibilities that could impact your ability to be here?
  • Are you a smoker?
  • Are you allergic to pets (if you have pets)?
  • If other family members or friends stop by, will you be comfortable with that?

Experience

  • Do you have experience working with someone in my condition?
  • What are your qualifications as a caregiver? Are you licensed?
  • Can you provide me with two references?
  • If I conduct a background check, will you be comfortable with that?

Ask About Emergencies

  • How would you handle an emergency, such as a fire?
  • How would you handle it if I don’t want to get out of bed but there’s a doctor’s appointment?
  • What if I have a fever?
  • Can you describe a situation when an emergency occurred and you handled it well?

Once you’ve decided on a personal caregiver, you should still consider some safety measures you make so that the home is suited to those seeking to age in place.

Remodeling Your Home to Age in Place

It is important to transform your living space as you age. Even if you decide to hire a personal nurse to offer assistance, it still makes sense to go through your house and clear clutter, introduce more light and generally make it a safer place to live.

If you decide you need to remodel your home for the long-term, be sure to select a qualified contractor or handyman that understands the unique needs of senior living.

Here are questions you should ask a senior remodeling specialist:

Which upgrades should be completed immediately?

A contractor can assess basic safety and livability, and if mobility is an imminent concern the contractor may suggest installing an in-home elevator to ensure safety when traveling between floors. Today’s smaller elevator options are easy to install and operate and they are more affordable.

What upgrades should I plan for in the near future?

If mobility is less of an issue, a handyman may suggest waiting to install a walk-in bathtub which is one of the safest bathing options, instead recommending grab bars near the shower, tub, and toilet. Ask a qualified expert in senior home updates to be sure.

Which upgrades can be done on a budget?

An experienced contractor can provide options for budget-conscious clients. Instead, for example of recommending a smart stove for forgetful clients, a contractor may suggest installing shut-off valves for range-top stoves that provide safety at cost savings.

These are just a few of the many in-home enhancements you can make to safely age in place. If you would like to see additional tips about how you can make your home more “senior friendly,” be sure to read our new free guide, Safe Home. Happy Home. Download it now!