The first step is to understand that you are not alone. There is an array of professionals that can help you transition together onto this new stage.
While trusting someone to care for people you love may not be easy, there are several ways to ensure you get them the best possible care. Start by clarifying what you need. Is it in-home care? Do you need a health professional? Are you expecting to have someone to take care of their household needs? Make a thorough list and use it to create a job posting. Depending on your parent’s health, you also need to determine how much they can be involved in the decision-making process.
Safety is always the main concern of family members who are seeking care for their elderly relatives. What if they are abused or neglected? While you always need to pay close attention to how things unfold after hiring a caregiver, due diligence is the best way to ensure safety. Once you have chosen a few good candidates, run a background check. Make sure they have no history of violence (which can be checked through criminal records) or sexual abuse (by checking sex offender registries).
A good place to start is to use an online service. Checkpeople, for example, can help you sort through thousands of websites and offer a comprehensive report. They charge a flat fee for unlimited monthly searches. If your parents require professional healthcare (such as a nurse or nurse aide), make sure they are certified.
The next step in the due diligence process is to call references and cross-check the information you get from them. When calling previous employers, ask for very specific examples of a candidate’s performance, such as: how did they handle emergency situations? Can you describe their attitude towards the job? How was the relationship between them and the person they were caring for?
The last step is the interview. Whenever possible, it is recommended that your parent is part of the interview process. This will help them have an easier transition. During the interview, talk about your specific requirements. Be clear about your expectations, and ask what they need from you. All this information will later need to be written down and signed on a professional agreement or contract.
If this process is making you feel overwhelmed or stressed, consider hiring your caregiver through an agency. While their services may imply a higher cost, they can help you vet candidates and select the ones that are best suited for your specific situation.
A common mistake is to think that once you hire someone, there is no need to follow up. Approach the process as you would with any job candidate: ask them to create a plan for the first few months and establish communication mechanisms that work for everyone.
A good idea is to request a weekly report in which they talk about daily routines, activities, and overall health conditions. It’s also good to ask your parent’s physician to keep an eye on them. Ask them to report any important mood changes or health issues that may be directly related to their living situation (for example, an important change in their eating habits or hygiene).
If you don’t live close, ask for help from friends, neighbors, or other family members who can visit your parents periodically and make sure that everything is running smoothly. This is especially important when they have communication impairments (such as dementia).
Pay Attention to Caregiver’s Burnout
Even the best caregivers experience burnout. Caring for the elderly is not an easy job, and reports of violent or reckless behaviors are often linked to extremely tired or stressed caregivers. From the moment you interview candidates, ask them how they deal with difficult emotions and situations. It is very important to have alternate care for the caregiver’s days off and keep open communication so they can request time off when they are not feeling well. Visit this article to find out more information about caregiver’s burnout and tips to avoid it.
The process of finding the right caregiver can be extremely stressful and emotional for you and your parents. Seeking help from a mental health professional can make the transition easier. They can provide tools to better communicate your decisions with your parents and other family members. They can also help you develop better coping mechanisms.
Choosing the best caregiver is challenging and may feel overwhelming, so it’s important to be patient and approach the process one step at a time. Talk to your support system (friends, family, spouse) about your concerns before making the final decision.