How to Find In-Home Care for Dementia Patients
Regardless of the circumstance, finding the right in-home care for seniors with dementia can be a difficult and stressful task. There are so many options available, how do you determine which service, agency or caregiver is right for your loved one?
Determine What Type of In Home Care You Need
First, it is important to analyze what type of care your loved one truly needs. Do they need care 24/7 or just someone to call once a day and help with house cleaning and errands on a weekly basis? Do they have health issues that require nursing technicians? There are many levels of care to consider. Here are the most common offerings:
- Skilled Nursing: assistance with medications, wound care, IV therapy, etc.
- Therapy Services: physical, occupation and speech therapy provided in the home
- Meal Preparation: local programs such as Meals on Wheels
- Companion Care: providing socialization and friendship
- Personal Care: assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, transferring in and out of bed, using the restroom, etc. Can also include household services
- Memory Care: clinicians specially trained in cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's and dementia care
- Transportation: driving to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, local outings, etc.
- 24/7 Service: round-the-clock shifts of constant care.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing Home Health Care Agencies
- What type of services do you offer?
- How is your staff trained in dementia care?
- Are you bonded and insured?
- Do you carry Workman's Compensation Insurance?
- What is your minimum hourly requirement?
- What is the cost?
- What type of background checks are done on your workers?
- Will you file with insurance/Medicaid (if applicable)?
Does Your Loved One Need In Home Health Care?
- Find How Independent Your Senior Parent Is a Survey by Senior Helpers
Use this survey developed by senior care expert Dr. John Bowling to address a variety of factors that are critical to your parent's safety and well-being.
How to Research In-Home Health Care for Seniors
With the rise of baby boomers hitting their golden years, the market for senior services is growing rapidly with home health care franchises popping up nationwide. With so many choices, it will behoove you to do your homework before selecting an agency.
Talk to your friends; ask around about good in home health care. Many times the best service business are found through referrals and word-of-mouth. Make sure to consider your source before acting on another's opinion. Touch base with your local Alzheimer's Association or support groups in your area for recommendations. Visit a senior center and pick up a Senior Resource Guide if one is available. These can provide useful information and phone numbers all in one spot. Select your top three to five and being making calls.
First, call the agencies on your list and interview them. Find out if they provide the type of care you are looking for. See the blue box to the right for helpful questions to ask.
Next, contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your state either by phone or online at www.bbb.org. Check out your potential agencies BBB rating. The best rating is AAA.
Next, contact the Department of Health and Human Services in your state. You specifically want to make sure an agency is certified and licensed with the Division of Health Services Regulation.
Ask for referrals for the agency or home health worker you are considering hiring. Inquire about the worker's previous home care history. Call each reference provided. If the aide is not with an agency, you must do your own background check.
Once you have completed these tasks, narrow your list to your top two to three choices and set up an appointment for the nurse coordinator to visit your home. Typically the coordinator will want to see your home and meet you and the senior needing care. This helps her to find a good match for your particular situation. Make sure you also interview the actual person who will be coming to your home, not just the agency coordinator.
Previous Experience with Dementia Patients is Invaluable
It is important to make sure anyone providing care to dementia patients is not only trained in memory care, but also has previous experience working with seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's. They will have a better understanding of your loved one's needs and will be able to communicate with them more successfully. When you interview, ask questions regarding how the aide handled specific situations in her last job. For example, ask what would she do in the case of a seizure or stroke. Ask how she would handle sexual comments or advances, which can be so common in elderly men. Carefully listening to the responses to situational based questions may give you a good feel for how the candidate may care for your loved one.