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Most older people want to stay in their homes despite health problems. Keeping elders in their homes also often makes financial sense too. According to Money Magazine, assisted living facilities can cost $40,000 a year (on average) while the average cost of part-time, in-home assistance is about $21,000 per year.  However, if you’re going to invite someone into your home to care for your parent(s), you want to be absolutely sure you pick the right person. Here are some tips.

Training and / or Experience In The Kind of Care Your Parent Needs  
Elders have different needs, and not everyone needs a caregiver with an RN degree. If your mom or dad requires nothing more than meal preparation and light housework, or these tasks combined with some personal care, a non-medical companion caregiver may be your best choice. For elders who need memory care (for example, to prevent wandering or ensure medications are taken correctly), someone with more training may be best.

In-Home Care Nurse

In order to find a caregiver who will meet your parent’s needs, you’ll first need to clearly define what those needs are. If you’re confused, talk to your parent’s physician or other knowledgeable individuals, such as a social worker. Also, be honest with your candidate caregivers: state the tasks that will be required and ask if the caregiver is comfortable with them. If your parent suffers from memory problems, can become belligerent or overly upset, you need to say so.

Commitment to Care Recipient Dignity and Self-Determination 
A good caregiver is committed to maintaining the dignity of those for whom they care and to allowing him or her to make as many decisions as possible (which helps maintain a sense of independence). Watch how the person interacts with your parent; the caregiver should address him or her directly and not talk about the elder as if s/he isn’t there. It helps if you communicate the type of choices your parent is able to make, such as what to wear on a given day, food choices, and choice of daily activities.

Involve Your Parent in the Decision Wherever Possible 
Not all elders may be able to help with decision-making. For example, those with late-stage dementia may not be lucid enough. Most elders, however, can offer at least some input. It helps if you avoid saying someone is coming “to take care of you” (which can be insulting to someone who has taken care of him or herself for the last 50-70 years). Instead, focus on companionship and the specific tasks that will be done. For example, ask “would you like Susie or Jane to come keep you company and make you lunch?”

Use a Caregiver Affiliated with an Agency  
Agencies screen applicants for basic background information and often provide comprehensive training on elder needs. Many states require licensing and in-service training, and a caregiver associated with an agency will be covered by the company’s liability insurance. If you choose to hire directly you can save some money but it’s up to you to screen applicants. Be ready to pay for background checks and be aware that caregivers may not carry liability insurance.

Final Thoughts 
Inviting a stranger to come into your home can be unnerving, but with these tips, you can get your parent the Phoenix in home care he or she needs.