How to Choose Help When It’s Time

March 10, 2017

Nurse holding hand of senior woman in pension home

Driving home after visiting her mother, Lisa knew if her mother was to continuing to live by herself, she would need some help. Fiercely independent all of her life, she’ll say she’s “just fine” but now at 82 she could see a difference. Lisa wants to honor her mother’s wishes to stay at home but she knows changes are needed.

Finding help for an older person shouldn’t be hard but it can be more difficult than it seems. After all, there must be people around that do this kind of work. But then Lisa remembered hearing of an instance when a person working privately had gained the trust of the person and stolen her savings by writing checks from the older person’s bank account. Remembering that, Lisa knew she wouldn’t relyon hiring someone privately. She wanted to assure her mother’s safety, security and well being.

With the numbers of elders growing in the U.S., homecare agencies and services are growing to meet the needs. The services, experience and reputation vary. When looking for help in and around the home for an older adult, the following issues should be addressed:

  1. Look for a business/agency that is reputable. How long has it been in business? Is it a franchise model or an agency specific to the needs of the older individual in that community?
    It’s critical to have someone in the home who is honest and trained to provide the care.
  2. What kind of services are provided? What can I expect the employees to be trained to do?
    Homecare employees should have experience with meal preparation, assisting clients in/out of chairs, personal care, shopping, medication reminders, light housework and transportation.
  3. How often will the care provider come? How will they know what to do?
    The homecare supervisor should help determine what duties the employee will accomplish each visit. With the client and family, they will determine how many days/week are needed keeping in mind the needs and wishes of the client.
  4. What kind of supervision do these employees have within the home setting?
    Utilizing a geriatric care managed home care agency assures oversight by credentialed specialists in the field of aging. If the homecare agency doesn’t utilitize geriatric care managers, you can hire one to assist with monitoring and oversight.
  5. How can you be assured of good care and that the needs of the elder are being met?
    Geriatric care managers –social workers, nurses & gerontologists monitor the care, make regular home visits and send reports to families out of the area.
  6. How do I know how much this will cost? Be concerned if the agency boasts of no contracts to sign. You need to know what the agency’s ethical and legal responsibilities are.
    A reputable agency will give you the costs and have the client and Power of Attorney read and sign a Service Agreement that details the agency responsibilities, services and costs.

Carol S. Heape, MSW, CMC is Executive Director/CEO of Elder Options, Inc. providing geriatric care management & home care in the Sacramento Region since 1988.