In an effort to help older family members or close friends continue to thrive while “aging in place,” the time may have come to find a reliable caregiver to offer support for a senior living independently. But with all the recent reports of elder abuse; physical, emotional and financial, selecting a caregiver is a task worthy of investing a considerable amount of time and effort.
In choosing a caregiver consider using an agency, which will at least do some basic background and criminal checking to use as a starting point. But don’t leave it at that; family or friends helping an older adult find a compatible caretaker should also conduct their own background check including following up with at least two references.
If possible, include the elderly client in the decision-making process and interview potential workers in person. Ask questions about their training as well as their interests; a similar hobby or pastime can help cement a caregiver/client relationship. Look for a good personality match, someone who would understand the senior and their lifestyle. The social aspect of care giving is as important as the physical demands of the job, look for a caregiver who is compassionate and respectful.
Before meeting with a potential caregiver, create a daily schedule with clear expectations of duties to be performed. Again, including the senior in the planning stages will help give them a sense of control over their situation and are more likely to accept help. By framing the experience as a positive change, designed to help them maintain independence, an older adult is less likely to refuse assistance.
In cases where medical attention is required or someone needs help being transferred, (ie: from bed to wheelchair) ask the caregiver about the special training they have received or may need. Improperly moving an elderly person can cause injury and any administration of treatments should be carefully monitored.
Once a caregiver is in place, family and friends should plan to drop in during initial visits to ensure all in well. Weekly updates from the caregiver with one member of the family could also help ease the transition and reassure everyone concerned.
Contact your local area Agency on Aging for more caregiver resources or the National Association for Home Care and Hospice at http://www.nahc.org/ .