Elder Companionship: Aspects to Consider When Hiring a Professional Home Care Provider

When it comes to professional care for seniors, you want only the very best.
Image source: Flickr user Ulrich Joho[/caption]

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When it comes to professional care for seniors, you want only the very best.
Image source: Flickr user Ulrich Joho

Hiring a professional for elder companionship is never easy. If you’ve never gone through the process before, it’s hard to know what to look for. You know you want only the best for your loved one, but how do you know what the best is?
When my family was hiring a professional caregiver for my grandmother, they interviewed many candidates. Although it was a daunting process, it was well worth the time and effort spent. Eventually, my family chose a wonderful woman who treated my grandmother like her own flesh and blood.

The right credentials

When looking for someone to help out your senior, make sure they have the right credentials, and that those credentials are up-to-date. Home health aides should be certified, nurses should be licensed according to their nursing level, and anyone who comes to your senior’s home should be insured and bonded.
Verifying a person’s credentials isn’t as daunting as it may seem. First, ask for a copy of the home care candidate’s license or certification (if they refuse to supply one or are reluctant, that’s a red flag right there). Call up your state’s Division of Consumer Affairs (or look in their online database). Any complaints or penalties made regarding the candidate should pop up when you put in their license number. You’re generally looking for a license that’s “in good standing,” which means no penalties were assigned to the candidate, and they have no unresolved complaints.
Although it’s tempting to go with a close friend or family member, this is not an ideal strategy. Unless that person is an actual nurse or certified home health aide, it’s unlikely they’ll be prepared for every scenario that could arise while caring for your loved one. In addition, if they or your elder suffers an injury in the course of care, insurance and liability could become an issue.

Previous experience with elder companionship

The necessity of having previous experience with elder companionship cannot be overstated. Caring for seniors is very different than caring for children – or even the middle-aged. They have specific needs and challenges that your professional should know how to meet – even before they walk in the door. It’s important that candidates have had significant prior experience working with seniors. This also helps in that they will have references for you to contact.

A good fit for your elder’s needs

Maybe your loved one is only looking for the most basic level of elder companionship – someone to keep them company and while away the hours. Or perhaps they need someone a bit more skilled to help them with ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living), such as bathing, dressing, and feeding themselves. They might even require precise medical skills, such a nurse providing diabetes management care or IV antibiotics. Whatever the situation, be sure to select a professional who is a good fit for your elder’s needs.

Has rapport with your elder

Many people overlook this aspect when choosing a homecare professional, but be sure to get someone who has a rapport with your elder. There’s nothing more frustrating than going through all the trouble of picking the perfect person on paper, only to have your senior reject them because of personal issues.
Good rapport often means the home care worker communicates easily and respectfully with your elder, anticipates their needs, and is patient and accommodating. Rapport can be established by getting to know the elder — their likes and dislikes, daily schedule, and the people and things that are important to them.

Elder companionship can be a tough decision

From the levels of care involved to the quality of the personal connection, elder companionship can be a tough decision. And with more seniors living longer, it’s likely yours may need home care at some point. But with the proper assessment, you can increase the chances your elder will have the perfect companion for years to come.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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