Who are we going to leave in charge of our loved one? And how do we find someone who we can trust?
It can seem like an incredible responsibility. But help is available.
If you’re talking about homemakers, sitters, or aides, there are a number of agencies in your community that can get you started on the right track, among them your Area Agency on Aging, the Department on Aging, Social and Rehabilitation Services, or your local Alzheimer’s Association. If you’re talking about trained nurses, you’ll have to go through a home-care agency. Your loved one’s doctor should be involved in setting up these services, and in recommending an agency.
There’s a third option, as well. Certified Nurse Aides are trained to assist with dressing, bathing, feeding, and medications. Most have experience in working with Alzheimer’s/dementia patients. And you should also check for CPR certification.
Or, you can hire someone on your own. Your local Alzheimer’s Association will have a list of individual caregivers. While they can’t make recommendations, they can tell you the feedback they’ve received. And caregiver support groups can provide recommendations.
If you go the do-it-yourself route, you’ve got to treat this as an employer-employee relationship – nothing less. You need to have people fill out an application. You need to see identification such as a drivers’ license, Social Security card, or nurse/aide certification, and a resume. And – like any employer – you need references!
These will be the most important interviews you’ve ever conducted. They should be done in your home, with your loved one present. This way, you can pick up on his/her level of comfort with the person – as well as your own.
Even after the hire, always keep a file with identification, certificates, and background-check results. Familiarize your new employee with your loved one – her likes, dislikes, behavior patterns, and habits. And make sure you don’t pay for services you don’t need. For instance, if all you need is someone to cook and clean, a homemaker will cost less than a nurse aide.
Lastly, word of caution: In some states, contracting with someone to provide care for your loved one can cause eligibility issues with Medicaid. The only one who can tell you for sure is an experienced Elder Law attorney!
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we’ve been practicing Elder Law for 33 years. And we’ve helped thousands of South Florida families find in-home care for their loved one. In addition, we’ve also helped them draft air-tight wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents, and assisted with the VA or Medicaid, and protection of assets.
We know the ropes. And we’re just a phone call away!