If you’ve been taking care of a senior relative or friend and are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility, hiring home care can help provide the senior the level of care he or she needs — and you the relief you deserve. Home care can vary in terms of level of service, so when considering in-home care, first try to take stock of what your loved one’s needs are. Do they need someone with them 24/7 (in addition to the care you’re able to provide) or for just a few hours a day? Maybe they’d prefer the socialization companion care offers — or perhaps their physical and/or mental health demands a mix of help to best cover their needs and yours.
When hiring, there are several types of senior caregivers to consider. These tend to break down into two different categories: non-medical caregivers and medical caregivers.
Non-medical in-home care options:
Medical in-home care options:
And when it comes to looking out for yourself as a caregiver, consider respite care, which is short-term relief for primary caregivers. Whether your home caregiver steps in or your loved one attends a drop-off adult day program, goes to an overnight facility and even participates in a recreational activity or outing, respite care can fulfill their need for companionship, personal care such as bathing or even medical assistance while you reap the benefits of rejuvenating time off.
When hiring an in-home caregiver, you’ll first want to determine the type and amount of help you’ll need. Do you need someone just to help with errands and offer companionship to your loved one, or do you also need someone who can help monitor and administer medications? And do you need someone for a few hours a week or around-the-clock care? Once you have an idea of that, the next big decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to hire independently or go through an agency. There are pros and cons to consider for both.
Independent hires vs. agencies
Hiring independently tends to be less expensive but requires more legwork on your end to vet and manage caregivers. If you want to hire independently, you can get recommendations from friends or search on care.com. Conversely, going through an agency offers more coverage, such as when a caregiver is sick, but you are likely less in control of who shows up to care for your loved one. For a full breakdown, make sure to reference our articles on the pros and cons below.
What to look for in caregiver candidates
When hiring a senior caregiver, you know it’s about more than just finding someone who is capable of the job, but also about who is going to be the right fit for your loved one. When evaluating candidates, ask about and look for the following to find the person who will not only look out for your family member but will truly care for them too.
Hiring a caregiver can sometimes feel like a less formal arrangement since the person is working in your home instead of in an office setting. But it is still a professional agreement that will work best when treated as such. An important step to take to cement this arrangement is drafting and agreeing upon a contract that both parties can sign and have to reference throughout the working relationship. Remember, caregivers are almost always considered household employees, not independent contractors, because you set their schedules, supply them with what they need in the house and hire back-up care. As such, you will be responsible for payroll and proper tax withholding.
A well-formed senior caregiver contract will include the following:
Now that you’ve hired a qualified senior caregiver for your loved one, you’ll want to set all parties up for success. To best do this, you’ll want to spend time coming up with some structure for the days that map to the expectations you both agreed to in the contract. A helpful tool for this is what’s known as a "plan of care." A thorough plan of care will include:
Hopefully, with these tools, you, your loved one and the caregiver will all be able to form a healthy and fruitful working relationship. If you find that you’re struggling with a caregiver who shows up late, spends too much time on their phone or just isn’t providing that level of attention you’d planned for, know that you aren’t stuck; there are workable solutions to these common issues or ways to change it up if the person just really isn’t a good fit.