Finding a caregiver for your aging loved one can be difficult, especially during these unprecedented times. It can feel overwhelming to find someone you trust to keep an aging loved one safe.
Locating a caregiver or a nursing home can be done online or through word of mouth, says Marian Battersby, the co-owner of the Home Instead Senior Care in Grosse Pointe Woods, but the most important thing is finding someone you can depend on.
“I would say you need to find someone in it for the right reasons,” says Battersby.
Senior care companies understand that keeping older loved one safe during the pandemic is of utmost importance. Adult children should ask questions about the safety precautions in place and what training the caregiver has received.
Three questions to ask
The first thing to ask is how a potential caregiver would keep an aging loved one safe from COVID-19.
If a caregiver is affiliated with a care company, families can check whether training was provided to him or her. Families can also inquire about whether a registered nurse is on staff and, if there were training lessons, whether they were led by a healthcare professional.
Making sure a potential caregiver is taking the pandemic seriously and keeping themselves and your loved ones safe is paramount.
Once you’ve established that the care company, private caregiver or nursing home has adequate precautions in place, asking questions to gather information about personality and experience can be helpful.
One of the most telling answers, says Battersby, is to the question, “What are some of the most important experiences you’ve had with seniors in the past?”
She says asking this question allows families to understand how a potential caregiver would respond to specific situations as well.
“You can throw out examples specific to your senior’s needs and ask things like ‘What would you do if this happened?'”
If using a care company or franchise, it’s also important to find out whether the organization is accredited, says Battersby. Accreditations are voluntary, so some care facilities and services may opt out, but finding one that chooses to undergo the accreditation process can provide extra peace of mind.
Four things to look for
Imagine the perfect caregiver. What comes to mind? Is it someone reserved and professional, or a person with an outgoing personality that will engage your senior?
Whatever specific personality traits you think would work best with an aging loved one, Battersby says there are three main things to look for in a caregiver: reliability, professionalism and a good heart.
“Families want reliability, and they want a caregiver who treats them like a member of their own family,” she says. Certain care companies will also have substitutes for caregivers on call in case of emergencies, which is important for seniors in need of a higher level of assistance.
“I look for professionalism, empathy and a good sense of humor,” she says. “It’s also great to find someone with a lot of experience, but it’s not a necessity.”
“You’re looking for someone who will engage a loved one,” she adds.
Finding a caregiver with specific experiences that show how he or she would engage your aging loved one is key, says Battersby. Some caregivers have specific training for seniors with memory loss, for example, and have training on how to plan meaningful activities. Different caregivers may be better suited to handle the specific needs of your senior.
The last thing to look for in a caregiver is a sense of their overall commitment to those around him or her.
“I would ask as many questions as you can to probe what their relationship is with other folks,” she says. “Are they active in volunteering? In the church? You want to know if there are things that would indicate that they go above and beyond just a paycheck—you’re trying to find that jewel.”