How to Choose a Caregiver

The title of caregiver is not as obvious as it may seem.  Caregivers can aid in eldercare on many different levels and depending on your needs their roles can provide key benefits.

Benefits of caregivers

Your eyes and ears: Whether you live close by or far away, a caregiver can observe and update you on areas of nutrition, hygiene, activity level, services and other daily issues.

A concierge: Scheduling and staying current with weekly and monthly activities such as doctor’s visits, shopping, hair appointments, and therapy requires phone calls and follow up.  Allow the caregiver to take some of this off or your mind and your to-do list.

An influencer: Communication and opinions by close family members are sometimes not seen as being objective or carry as much weight as a professional caregiver.  Therefore it may be easier on everyone if the caregiver steps in at times to advise the patient rather than a family member.

Finding a caregiver

Before you choose a caregiver, you should determine the range of services you want so that you are making a decision that covers your predetermined needs.  Consider the following:

Make a list of daily activities: By reviewing the activities of a typical day of the patient you will be able to determine the specific duties required.  It helps to create a timeline of activities so that you plan for meals, naps and regular appointments.

Assess the degree of specialty: If the patient suffers from any degree of dementia or physical disability make sure you look for a caregiver with appropriate knowledge and experience.

Determine the need for meal preparation: Not only should you make a choice for a caregiver on their ability to prepare meals if necessary, but also their understanding and ability to create diet-specific meal choices.

Once you have your specific needs list refined, go to the following resources to be connected to the appropriate pool of caregivers to begin your interview process.

Additional resources:

10 Caregiver Questions

To make the most of your time during the interviewing process, conduct preliminary interviews on the phone rather than starting with in-person appointments.  Describe the job in detail along with the required hours needed and wages available.  If you feel the applicant may be a good match based on their experience and ability to provide references, then schedule the in-person interview.  It is a good idea to have another family member or friend participate in the interview to provide an objective perspective.  Finding that great match may be easier with a second opinion.

In preparation for the interview, create a list of questions pertinent to the job description.  Ask questions relevant to the caregiver’s experience and expertise surrounding the daily activities list you previously created.

  1. Where have you worked before?
  2. What were your duties?
  3. What type of patient medical limitations have you worked with in the past?
  4. What is your experience cooking for other people (including dietary restrictions)?
  5. Is there anything in the job description that you are uncomfortable doing?
  6. Have you had to deal with a patient emergency in the past?
  7. Can you keep track of and administer medications?
  8. Would you be able to transfer someone from a wheelchair into a car or into a bed?
  9. How do you feel about caring for a disabled person? Or a person with memory problems?
  10. Can I contact at least two work-related and one personal reference?

If you need a template for a caregiver interview, download this form as a guide:

Once you narrow down your field of applicants, make sure you observe the applicant’s interactions with your family member on a casual basis before making a decision.  If your family member is able, he or she should be included in the interview process and in making the final decision.

Consider the person most qualified for the job and with whom you feel most comfortable. Always check the references of at least two final applicants. Good applicants may have more than one opportunity at a time, so don’t wait too long before proceeding with an offer.

  • Jennifer Cook

    Very helpful article Ryan – the forms and questions especially!

  • ryanmalone

    Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for coming by.

  • Dignity Memorial NC

    Choosing a caregiver for your aging parents is such an important task — and certainly requires considerable thought. During this time, we also want to encourage you to speak with your parents about pre-planning his or her end-of-life services, as well. It can be a hard topic to discuss, but it's is an important and crucial aspect to estate planning, and in doing so you'll make sure your all of your parent's wishes are met. Here are some suggestions on how to start:

  • firstSTREET

    Great tips and resources for locating the right caregiver! It is easy to oversee many of the important points you mentioned in the heat of the moment, and when you truly need a caregiver as soon as possible. As you implied, it is much better to cover all the bases during the hiring process than to arrive at an undesirable situation with an incapable caregiver! Your post will be very helpful for those looking for a caregiver for their parents, a loved one, or even themselves.

  • How to Properly Choose a Caregiver For your Loved One — New York Elder Law Attorney Blog — November 5, 2016

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