Google Elder Abuse. You’ll get 6,430,000 results in 0.46 seconds. It’s a downright shame and a valid concern among our population. The thought of having someone you don’t know come into your home to care for you, cost, theft, and outright denial that there is a need for help—these are some of the arguments against hiring a personal caregiver.
But there comes a time in every life when we need a hand, a little extra help. Caregivers can do just that—whether a client is in their own home or in a care facility. Hiring a caregiver can bring great benefits: the ability to age in place in a healthy way, the peace of mind knowing your loved one is getting the care they need and deserve, and more quality time to spend with your loved one when you have someone to share the responsibilities.
Let’s lay some of those objections and fears out on the table and address them. By doing that, we can work to find safe, balanced solutions to care needs.
Objections to Hiring a Caregiver
- Cost – Cost is probably the number one objection to hiring a caregiver. Proper care can help a person stay healthier longer, which means being independent longer. When compared to assisted living and nursing home facilities, home care can sometimes be a more affordable option. As an added bonus, home care comes to the client; no need to move to a facility until it becomes absolutely necessary. Most seniors would prefer to stay at home as long as possible, and thus making home care a win-win solution.
- Feeling Vulnerable – Professional caregivers assist clients with some pretty intimate tasks. Imagine someone knocking on your door and saying, “I’m here to bathe you.” Especially if a person has been fiercely independent all their life, allowing someone to help with caregiving tasks can be a big adjustment. Remember, you have the right to feel comfortable with your chosen caregiver.
- Revolving Door – Sometimes agencies get the reputation of being a revolving door of caregivers. The truth is, it’s easier to get the same caregivers when you are scheduling care on a regular basis and for longer hours. Care that is scheduled on an as needed basis, or for shorter blocks of time, is more of a challenge. In these cases, a good agency will work hard to choose several compatible caregivers for a client. The client may not have the same caregiver every time, but the caregiver sent out is more likely to be someone with whom the client is familiar. If you require care on a regular basis, you should expect to know the person who will be coming to care for you.
- Theft – This is a valid concern. We see it in the news or hear stories of caregivers stealing from clients. If you hire an independent caregiver you probably rely on recommendations from others. If so, it’s important to have a very trustworthy source giving the recommendation. Ideally, you should run a background check and ask for a drug screening from anyone who will be caring for you or a loved one. A reputable caregiving agency’s hiring process will include a complete background check and drug screen. These checks should be run upon hire and on an ongoing basis.
- Abuse – A considerable benefit of using a caregiving agency is that the agency should be monitoring their caregivers’ performance. You should expect surprise supervisory visits, check up calls to clients and their loved ones, and open lines of communication with caregiver supervisors. If you hire an agency, make sure that they follow through on their promises to do these things.
- Denial – It’s easier to deny that you need help until you really, really need it. Few of us want to admit that we need help, but that’s a little like going to the grocery store hungry and without a list—we end up making reflexive or impulsive choices instead of doing our research. Lay out all of your options, and then decide what’s best. Just remember that (if it’s not a crisis situation) it’s likely to take more than one conversation about the issue.
The thought of bringing in caregiving assistance for some is a saving grace. To others, the idea can bring feelings of fear and vulnerability. If you are considering getting help, do your homework first and then ask questions and make sure you get the answers you need.