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Choosing Effective Home Care for Elderly Parents

Updated on April 4, 2011

Parents and Children, reversing the roles


Approximately 10 years ago the term “sandwich generation” was coined as baby boomers reached 60-plus years of age and adult children began to bear the burden not just of their children, but their parents as well.

With the population of seniors swelling to al time highs, the demands of two career couples and the concerns about residential senior placement, more and more families are seeking services from in-home care providers.

The following are a few simple steps to take some of the dread out of hiring an in home caregiver.


·         Go through a reputable agency.  Anyone can open the help wanted section. Reputable employers have access to criminal background checks, credit reports and previous employment histories. Some states such as Illinois also circulate lists to home care agencies citing workers who have been proven to have taken advantage of seniors and are now banned from the field.

·         Make sure that any agency selected has a state business license; liability and workmen’s compensation insurance.  This protects the homeowner from slips and falls, accidental fires and theft of property.  Don’t just take their word for it.  As to have copies emailed or faxed to you for your file.

·         Ask was the criminal background check is.  Most reputable homecare agencies will happily and knowledgeably walk you through the steps.

·         Find own what type and length of training new hires receive.  Is ongoing training also required?  Is the training state mandated or does the company keep its standards above state minimums.

·         Get everything in writing: costs, extras, start and end dates; rates for weekends and holidays Daily number of hours and times of day. Write out what chores, errands of helping needs to be done each day.  And make sure to get a copy for your file.

·         How long has the individual identified for your home worked for the agency?  What is the worker’s first and last name.  New hires sometimes bring with them surprises even the most dogged vetting cannot uncover i.e. things like personal preferences, squeamishness or quirky personality traits.

·         Has this person worked with other challenging clients or do they specialize in situations like yours.  Some works do well with stroke victims, or those suffering from dementia, while others are good at assisting with activities of daily living like shopping, laundry and errand running.

·         IF a service is set up, plan on having a family member in the home for the first few visits, to make introductions, show the worker where household items are kept and make sure the client and worker are both aware of the client and family personal preferences.

·         If there are concerns, invest in a nanny cam.  While a vast majority of in home health care workers  are dedicated individuals who strive to give their charges the best possible care, there are always a few individuals that may prefer to do less than their job.  This is especially important in situations were elderly clients cannot effectively communication situations or concerns to family members.

·         Check with current life and health insurance companies to see if long term health insurance is part of a current policy.  Many folks incorrectly assume because family members are aging, and sometimes feeble, that health insurance will foot the bill.  However, while a request written by the family doctor for a specific service, such as wound care, is covered under Medicare; most daily living assistance is not.  Without specific long term health insurance, these costs are out of pocket.

·         Make sure that medication lists and times, emergency numbers and current client medical conditions are posted.  Information like this is invaluable during an emergency when family members may not be immediately available.  If a home care aide is worker with a paramedic, this information goes a long way toward starting treatment while family members are still driving to the scene of the situation.

·         Keep information on the agency contact number, your office representative’s name and your workers name handy in case you need to call in a change of schedule, or an unexpected absence on the part of the worker.  While competers may contact this information, having it handy saves time.

·         If something goes wrong, speak up immediately.  It is often easier to correct a problem, then suffer silently while you go through the process of finding another aid provider

·         And good luck.


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