Evaluating In-Home Help for Seniors

Sandy Botkin
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If we are lucky enough to live a long life, we probably will need someone around to the house to help us with various activities, However, when it comes to hiring home care workers, there is little information available as to what to look for in evaluating what we need and who to hire. Thus, I thought I would do a post on this that should be very helpful in evaluating what we should do for our parents or even ourselves when we can’t perform the normal activities required of life. Here is a useful checklist that you should disseminate and print out:

1Establish your needed requirements: Before you start any search, it is important to take a step back and think about what you will really need. Does your mom, for example, want a female attendant or a Spanish speaking caregiver? Do they need someone with a driver’s license or with experience dealing with dementia patients? If you just need companionship, you probably don’t need an RN. However, if you need a worker who can perform some clinical tasks such as wound care, changing catheters,etc., you might need someone who has more training.

Do you need someone for only 8 hours a day or do you need someone around longer? Again, this is a very important step and should be considered very carefully before you do anything.

2Evaluate using an agency vs a direct hire: A home health care agency can cost $20-$40 an hour vs a direct hire that can cast at one-third to half this cost; however, an agency has some advantages. If the worker gets sick or doesn’t show up (which happens more frequently that most people realize), the agency can send over a replacement. If you need someone with a variety of skills, an agency will make it easier to find someone with those skills. An agency will also check the background of the worker, verify his or her training and handle the employment paperwork, which can take some administrative tasks off your hands.

Note: You will need to work with a Medicare – certified home health agency if you want Medicare to cover your care. 

You can find agencies that offer home health care services by simply going to “Google” and searching for them. Some organization sites that list some agencies would be: 


3Monitoring the situation becomes crucial: Assuming you have found the right caregiver, you need to monitor the relationship to make sure that it is working for both parties. If you don’t live nearby, you can use “smart home” technology. This can include smart speakers, video devices, Alternatively, you can use the low tech route that I did with my dad in simply having a friend or neighbor stop in unannounced. Someone has to check in if you can’t be there.

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