As your loved one gets older, you may be considering hiring an in-home caregiver to avoid assisted living, so your loved one can remain in an environment where they are most comfortable, surrounded by the house and familiarity of possessions they cherish while they’re safe and healthy.

First, it’s important to understand just what exactly type of care is provided by an in-home care provider so that it will help prevent any misunderstandings and ensure that your loved one is receiving the appropriate level of care for at-home, independent living. Caregiver duties and responsibilities can include:

- Assisting with medications.

- Shopping and other errands.

- Personal care assistance including: bathing, grooming, dressing, using the bathroom and exercise.

- Emotional support/companionship

- Household care such as light housekeeping, laundry and retrieving the mail.

You can hire independent caregivers both through a home health services agency or directly. The first step is narrowing down you or your loved one’s needs; including personal care, household care, emotional care, meals, and basic healthcare. Here are some tips to take into consideration when looking for the right fit for your family:

- Determining your needs: you can start by having a discussion with your loved one’s primary care physician if you’re not sure what is needed. Take other factors into consideration like any other special care needs such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease. Another thing to determine is if this will be short-term care or long-term care.

- Independent Caregiver or Homecare Agency: an independent caregiver is hired directly by you or your loved one. You can hire in-home caregivers independently or through a home care agency. While in home care can be more expensive, it is assured that the provider has been fully vetted. If there happens to be an emergency with your scheduled caregiver, a home care agency usually has backup care providers.

- Fair Compensation: assisted living can be expensive and hiring a caregiver for in-home help can also impact your budget, but keep in mind you are paying for help with the safety, well-being and happiness of your loved one. Here are things to consider when determining compensation for an in-home caregiver:

1) The hours they work

2) The level of care provided

3) Years of experience

4) Cost of living in your area

5) Whether there is Medicare coverage for some or all of their services

- Conduct interviews and background checks: interview potential candidates so you can figure out if this person will be a good fit for your family. Interacting with them allows you to learn about them and why they became an in-home caregiver and how they will handle potential issues. To ensure the safety of your loved one and their home, you want to make sure to run a background check. This should be detailed for home care providers because the person works with the elderly and vulnerable.

- Talk about a care plan: when hiring someone to come in your loved one’s home and take care of them, it’s important to address the tasks they have been hired for. With a good plan of care in place, you can be certain that your loved one is having their essential needs met whether that is keeping up with the house or assistance with bathing.

This can be a stressful process, but once you find the perfect caregiver and have a plan of action in place, it can mitigate caregiver stress and fatigue for both you and your loved one.