10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Caregiver

Once you’ve made the decision to hire a home caregiver for your loved one, you have to begin finding the right person. This is such an important call–you want someone who will love and graciously provide excellent care to the person you care about so much.

In order to help you with the process, we’ve teamed up with Lauri Sachs from the Cincinnati office of Homewatch CareGivers. She has a list of 10 questions to ask before you hire a home caregiver.

  1. How long has the agency been providing private duty home care?
  2. Is a written, customized care plan developed in consultation with the client and family members, and is the plan updated as changes occur?
  3. How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?
  4. Do they closely supervise the quality of care, including maintenance of a daily journal in the client’s home and non-scheduled supervisory visits?
  5. Does the agency employ a nurse, social worker, or other qualified professional to make regular visits to the client’s home?
  6. Do they provide a written document that states the rights and responsibilities of the client, and explains the company’s privacy policy and code of ethics?
  7. Do they triple-screen their caregiver employees carefully, including use of reference checks, driving records, and criminal background investigations?
  8. Does the agency mandate ongoing training of its employees to continually update their skills?
  9. Does the agency manage all payroll and employee-related matters and adhere to state and federal guidelines in its employment practices, such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing Workers’ Compensation and other benefits?
  10. Do they also use independent contractors? If so, who employs the person and pays the mandated taxes and withholdings in this case?

This list is, of course, not extensive. So much thought and reflection goes into finding a caregiver, but we hope this will be helpful for you along the journey. If you have been through this process and would like to share some advice with others, we welcome your comments.

When Should You Hire a Caregiver for Your Loved One?

How do you you know it’s time to think about either being or hiring a caregiver for your loved one? Independence is something all of us cherish and many older adults desperately wish to stay in their own home.

As our loved ones age, we have a responsibility to be on the lookout for warning signs which may indicate the need for help.

Lauri Sachs, from the Cincinnati office of HomeWatch Caregivers, has compiled a comprehensive list of warning signs that could help you determine if your loved one needs assistance. These warning signs should be used as a guide to help find patterns of deteriorating behavior (instead of an isolated incident):

• Is the person having difficulty with or lost interest in eating?
• Has there been recent weight gain or loss?

• Do they bathe less often or not want to bathe at all?
• Do they have mouth odor from lack of brushing teeth?
• Are their clothes less neat, or do they have stains on them?
• Do they hang dirty clothes back in the closet instead of washing them?

Social Skills
• Do they talk less or participate less in conversation?
• Are they content to just sit in a chair without reading or doing an activity?
• Do they not return phone calls?
• Have they become verbally or physically combative?
• Have they undergone recent emotional stress or a medical crisis?

• Do they have trouble with mobility, such as climbing stairs, or getting up out of a chair?
• Are there signs of bruises on the arms where they are bumping into things? Have there been recent falls?

• Are their medications being taken properly? Are they using more than one doctor and pharmacy to fill their prescriptions?
• Do they have trouble sleeping?
• Have they quit doing household chores? Is the house cluttered and messy?
• Are there signs of burnt pans on the stove or in the cupboards? Are there scorch marks on pot holders or dish towels? Are there burns on the skin from cooking?

This list might be something to keep near by so you can evaluate it on a fairly regular basis. If you begin to see patterns that cause you concern, perhaps it’s time to consider seeking extra help in your elderly loved one’s home. Talk to your loved one’s physician to discuss your options or contact Homewatch CareGivers for assistance in determining what kind of help is needed.

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

Day in and day out, more than 65 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role on the care team. No one else is in a better position to ensure continuity of care. Family caregivers are the most familiar with their care recipients’ medicine regimen; they are the most knowledgeable about the treatment regimen; and they understand best the dietary and exercise regimen.

This statement made by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) paints a vivid picture in the minds of caregivers. The selfless daily acts these people make on a continual basis inspire us.

National Family Caregivers Month takes place each November and provides an opportunity to raise awareness of family caregiver issues, celebrate the efforts of family caregivers, educate family caregivers about self-identification, and increase support for family caregivers.

To help FiftyLives show our support for caregivers, our friend Lauri Sachs of the Cincinnati office of Homewatch CareGivers offered this list of 10 important things all caregivers need to keep in mind:

  • Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be happy to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries for you.
  • Don’t give in to guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. You’re doing the best you can at any given time. Your house does not have to be perfect, and no one will care if you eat leftovers three days in a row. And you don’t have to feel guilty about asking for help.
  • Get informed. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Alzheimer’s Association offer classes on caregiving, and local hospitals may have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing.
  • Join a support group. A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends.
  • Stay connected. Make an effort to stay in touch with family and friends. Set aside time each week for socializing, even if it’s just a walk with a friend. Whenever possible, make plans that get you out of the house.
  • Commit to staying healthy. Find time to be physically active on most days of the week, and don’t neglect your need for a good night’s sleep. It’s also crucial to eat a healthy diet.
  • See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.
  • Practice self-care. Participate in activities you enjoy. Keep your sense of humor. Reward yourself as often as you can.
  • Adopt stress reduction techniques. Try things like yoga, deep breathing, meditation or massage.
  • Learn to let go. Accept that you may not be able to do things the way you used to. Simplify your lifestyle to conserve your time and energy for what’s most important.
We hope these tips provide you with some tools to help ease the stress of being a family caregiver. If you need further assistance with caregiving, HomeWatch Caregivers would be a great place to start. You can reach Lauri in their Cincinnati office at 513-407-9824 or find a local provider in your area by looking here.