A senior woman and her adult child talk with a professional caregiver.

How to Find a Professional Caregiver for Your Parent

Bethesda Health | July 15, 2019

There is a point where caring for Mom or Dad is no longer possible for family members. Determining the best course of action depends on a number of factors, including their physical and cognitive abilities, financial resources, and the amount of time and energy you as an adult child have to research and find what works best for everyone.

Let’s look at some of the factors to consider when selecting a professional caregiver.

Determine the Needs

A thorough assessment of your parents’ current and future needs is the first step. Do they need someone to check on them occasionally or do they require daily supervision? Can your parents still dress themselves, take care of the house, prepare meals, pay the bills, keep a calendar, run errands, and take their medications correctly? In short, can they perform the daily activities of life?

Conversely, are they frail, have issues with their balance, or in some stage of dementia which could endanger themselves living alone? Consult with your parent’s physician(s) and talk to other family members about their current living situation and what the future might hold.

What Resources are Available?

Professional caregiving can range from respite care services, during which someone stays in the home for a prescribed period of time to give a family caregiver a much needed break, to home health care services and skilled nursing care, which will provide comprehensive personal and medical care, or to hospice services near the end of life.

Personal care assistants can provide companionship and assist with bathing and dressing, light housekeeping, meals, shopping, and transportation needs. They are the least expensive option, but their experience and training vary. These services are not typically covered by Medicare or other insurances.

Home health certified nursing assistants monitor physical and cognitive conditions, take vital signs, set up medical equipment, offer assistance with walking, and administer some treatments. The medical-related tasks they perform are directed by a registered nurse or nurse practitioner.

Skilled nursing providers are licensed by the state, and can provide additional medical care that nonmedical and home health aides cannot. Under certain conditions, Medicare covers some home health skilled nursing care that is arranged by a Medicare-certified home health agency.

Registered nurses may be required for specialized care needs like dementia, cancer, or stroke. They can provide care in the home or a senior community, and medical caregivers maintain close contact with the family and other health care providers.

Hospice Care provides compassionate comfort care for people facing a terminal illness with a physician’s prognosis of six months or less to live. It is a team effort involving, physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, and chaplains. Medications are administered to ease pain, and the physical condition of the patient is constantly monitored to adjust care as needed. Aides provide in-home care such as bathing and other hygiene needs like shaving and dressing. Social workers evaluate the emotional status of the hospice patients and their families. Medicare and Medicaid can provide coverage for hospice services.

Before you make a decision about the type of care your loved one needs, check out Medicare, Medicaid, and Veteran’s benefits (if applicable), as well as any long-term care insurance your parent may have.

Making the Decision—Individual or Agency

There are many differences between hiring an individual care provider or a home health care agency. When hiring an individual provider, the process of vetting and interviewing candidates is your responsibility. You will also be responsible for insuring and eventually employing the person. The cost savings of this option should be weighed against several factors, including the fact that the care may not be covered by insurance and the difficulty of finding an alternative caregiver when your individual caregiver is sick or on vacation.

With a home health care agency, some of the cost may be covered by your insurance, and substitute caregivers are provided with a wider resource of skills. Time and effort is saved because you don’t have to be the one searching for the replacement. The agency handles all screening, pay, and taxes. In addition, if a particular home health care agency caregiver is not a good fit, the agency can send someone else.

No matter who you hire, you should seek out references, and the opinions of people you trust who have been in the same position with their parents that you find yourself in now.

Finding a Professional Caregiver in St. Louis

Being the primary caregiver of a senior parent or loved one is a challenging task. Bethesda is here to help. Our unique Care Management program provides support for family caregivers and a customized care plan for your loved one. We can help determine and coordinate care options for you.

Contact us to learn more about our Care Management and our other Home Health Care programs can help you and your aging parent.

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