While we would all like to be the ones responsible for the care of our elderly family and friends, there is only so much time in the day. Recognizing the need for the help of a trained and dedicated home caregiver can allow family members to still assist in the care of loved ones, while also having the time to take care of themselves. Here are some suggested steps to finding in-home elderly care for those close to you.

Know the Different Types of Caregivers

Several types of paid in-home caregivers provide a range of services, everything from help around the house to skilled health care.

  • Personal Care Aides (PCAs) are not licensed and have varying levels of experience and training. They serve as helpers and companions, providing bathing and dressing, conversation, light housekeeping, meals, and neighborhood walks. They can offer transportation to shopping and appointments, as well as pick up prescriptions.
  • Home Health Aides (HHAs) monitor the patient’s condition, check vital signs, and assist with activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. These aides also provide companionship, do light housekeeping, and prepare meals.
  • Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNAs) or Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) observe and report changes in the patient, take vital signs, set up medical equipment, change dressings, clean catheters, monitor infections, conduct range-of-motion exercises, offer walking assistance, and administer some treatments. All medical-related tasks are performed as directed by a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) meet federal standards for health and safety and are licensed by states. They evaluate, manage, and observe your family member’s care and provide direct care that nonmedical and home health aides cannot. Tasks could include administering IV drugs, tube feedings, and shots; changing wound dressings; providing diabetes care; and educating caregivers and patients.
  • Registered Nurses hold a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing; have passed the National Council Licensure Examination, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing; and have met all other licensing requirements mandated by their state’s nursing board. They provide direct care, administer medications, advise family members, operate medical monitoring equipment, and assist doctors in medical procedures.

Steps to Hiring a Home Caregiver

  • Assess the needs– Determine the level of assistance required. With your loved one, write down their needs and limitations, likes and dislikes, expectations and doctor recommendations.
  • Pick your search method- The goal is to find a trustworthy, compassionate and responsible caregiver. Do you feel most confident using a home health agency with aides on staff? Or would you rather hire an independent contractor directly, through a staffing service or a friend’s referral?

It is important to do your research into agencies and registries and to ask around for personal references to find the match that works best for you and your loved one. Trust, expertise, and affordability should be the three most important factors that determine your ultimate decision.

The goal is to find a trustworthy, compassionate and responsible caregiver. Do you feel most confident using a home health agency with aides on staff? Or would you rather hire an independent contractor directly, through a staffing service or a friend’s referral?

Whatever method you select, you and your loved one should interview applicants together if possible. Prepare written questions, and be clear and honest about job requirements. Finding the right match for your in-home elderly care needs allows you to feel secure in knowing the twilight years of a loved one’s life are in the best hands possible.

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