Most people prefer to be cared for in their home rather than a nursing home, but finding a home care provider for you or a loved one can be daunting. The following are some things to keep in mind when looking for a caregiver.
- Level of care. The first thing to consider is what level of care is needed. This will determine what type of caregiver to hire and how much the caregiver will cost. Home care providers can range from someone who offers companionship to someone who provides medical services. You can also hire a geriatric care manager to evaluate your or your loved one's needs and review the available options. To find a geriatric care manager in your area, visit the Web site of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at http://www.caremanager.org/.
- Write a job description. Once you have established what type of caregiver you need, you can write a job description. The description should list all the services you need a caregiver to provide, such as bathing, dressing, eating, bill paying, transportation, household chores, or physical therapy.
- Decide whether to use an agency or hire independently. There are several advantages to using an agency to find a caregiver. An agency screens caregivers for you, takes care of paperwork, and provides backup workers and insurance, among other things. The disadvantages are that you may not get to choose your caregiver or have the same caregiver every day. In addition, the agency may limit what the caregiver can do for you. If you decide not to go through an agency, you will need to carefully screen caregivers. You will also need to make sure you pay employment taxes and unemployment insurance.
- Locate a caregiver. Contact your local agency on aging to find information on home health care agencies in your area. You can call the Eldercare Locator toll-free at 1-800-677-1116 or go to http://www.eldercare.gov to find the area agency on aging near you. There are thousands of private home care agencies around the nation. If you are hiring a caregiver on your own, other resources for finding help include getting a referral from a friend, looking in the Yellow Pages, or advertising for help at a senior center or in the newspaper.
- Consider adult day care. Adult day care facilities provide care and companionship outside of the home and give seniors the chance to interact with peers. Facilities can provide social or therapeutic activities. You can pair adult day care with a home caregiver to allow you or your loved one a few hours outside the house.
- Get financial help. The cost of home health care will vary depending on the type of help that is needed -- the more skilled the help, the more expensive the cost. Personal-care assistants may earn between $7.50 and $15 an hour while more skilled aides may make $16 to $25 an hour or more. Medicare and Medicaid may provide some coverage of the medical portion of home health care. To find out more about what Medicare pays for, click here.
For more information about finding a home care provider, visit the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).