Whether you’re choosing someone to help yourself or someone to assist a family member, it can feel overwhelming and confusing to choose the right caregiver. This is a highly personal decision and one you want to have confidence in moving forward, so here are some of the most important things to keep in mind as you scout out possible caregivers.
How to Know It’s Time for a Caregiver
Perhaps a spouse or other family member was picking up these additional responsibilities over the last several months or years, but there are also signs that someone needs more consistent, additional, or advanced help in the home.
Here are signs that an independent loved one is unable to care for themselves any further, or that a temporary caregiver like a family member needs help:
- A current caregiver is suffering from their own health issues, is overwhelmed, or no longer has the time required to assist
- The person needing care is experiencing loneliness or depression
- The person needing care shows a lack of personal hygiene, sudden weight loss, or indications of malnutrition
- There are unpaid bills, stacks of mail, or important paperwork ignored throughout the home
- The home has numerous fall hazards that required help navigating, such as deeply pitched stairways or step-in bathtubs
- The person needing care is unable to perform daily tasks like cleaning
- The person needing care has no food, inappropriate food, or spoiled food in the home
How to Decide What Kind of Caretaker You Need
Once you make the decision that further help is needed, it is extremely important to dedicate some time towards researching and communicating with potential caregivers.
There is an array of possible solutions to your problem, such as engaging a friend or family member you already know or hiring someone from a private company. Having a clear understanding of what help is needed will help you pinpoint the specific services and time commitment required.
Here are some of the most common professionals providing care services and what they do:
- Home health aides check vital signs and manage activities of daily living (such as dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. HHAs must have 75 hours of training and may hold licenses from the state.
- Personal care aides do not hold licenses and can serve as companions and helpers doing things like picking up medications or offering rides to appointments.
- Skilled nursing providers (LPNs) provide and direct medical care that a nonmedical or home health aide cannot, such as administering IVs. They may also be trained in speech, occupation, or physical therapy.
- Certified nursing assistants or licensed nursing assistants take vital signs, monitor infections, clean catheters, assist with walking, and change dressings. Any medical tasks are performed under the direction of a nurse practitioner or registered nurse. CNAs can also help with personal care. Nursing assistants must complete at least 75 hours of training.
- Registered nurses hold an associate’s degree or nursing diploma and have passed a National Council Licensure Exam. They can advise family members, operate medical equipment, administer medications, and provide direct care. As such, they typically cost more than all other aides.
How to Find a Caregiver
You may want to start your search by letting other trusted friends and family know what you need. you never know who may be able to recommend you to a registry, agency, or person providing those services. You can also communicate with local healthcare agencies and nonprofits or churches who may have referrals to these services.
Make sure to schedule an initial meeting with the person who will provide care since this individual will be so closely involved in your personal life or the life of the person requiring assistance.