15 questions to ask during a senior caregiver interview

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If you're hiring a senior caregiver on your own, start by screening applicants over the phone, then meet in person (consider a public meeting place, like a coffeeshop). If things feel like a good fit, introduce the potential provider to your parent in the setting where they would be working. 

Ask these 15 questions during the interviews to narrow down your list of candidates:

  1. Do you have a driver's license and clean driving record? Do you have reliable transportation and insurance? How far from here do you live?
  2. Are you willing to submit to a background check? 
  3. What are your expectations for vacation time, and are you willing to help find coverage for the days that you need to take off?
  4. Will you be comfortable driving my mother's car if need be, or using your own car to run errands if we request it? Check out senior transportation options near you. 
  5. Are you willing to sign that you will not have guests come into our home unless you've received prior approval?
  6. Are you willing to sign a contract stating you will not accept money or gifts from my [parent/grandparent/spouse, etc] without clearing it with me?
  7. Have you ever cared for someone with [conditions relatable to your loved one's care: memory problems, elderly, wheelchair bound, etc.] before? If so, please elaborate. 
  8. Are you able to work the hours needed? When are you available to start working? After a 30-day trial period, would you be willing to commit to a [fill in a time frame like 6 months or one year] term?
  9. Here is a list of expected caregiving related duties -- is there anything on the list that poses a problem or concern? Are you comfortable with pets?
  10. Are you comfortable with my [parent/spouse] having guests or other family members stopping by?
  11. What caregiving certification training do you have, if any? Do you have any CPR or first-aid training? If I pay for it, would you be willing to add to your skills? 
  12. Do you smoke? 
  13. Will you be working other jobs that might be affected if I'm delayed getting home? 
  14. Would you be available for respite care, or to stay over for a long weekend?
  15. What are your responsibilities outside of work? Do you have to account for the schedules or needs of others in your workday, or are you flexible?

Create scenarios

Ask the prospective caregiver how they would handle various care issues that might arise and are similar to your situation.

-- How would you handle it if my mother wakes up grumpy and doesn't want to get dressed or eat her breakfast-but she has a doctor's appointment later that morning?

-- If my father is running a fever and is acting lethargic and you think there's blood in her urine, what would you do? If I'm out of town and can't be reached, what would you do then?

-- My aunt falls, seems confused, doesn't recognize you and won't let you help her. She's combative, what do you do?

Once you have hired someone and have all of the documentation and paperwork squared away, it helps to have a plan for the first week to ensure a smooth transition.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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