A woman in scrubs holds a pill organizer and glass of water as she sits at a table with an old woman. A younger woman stands in the background, observing with a legal pad in hand.

Finding a Professional Caregiver: Tips on Navigating and Securing Help

For the first few years after my mother, Jewel was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, our family tried our best to give her the care she needed and deserved. We are very blessed to have a loving family and everyone pitched in when and wherever they could, and would visit often.

My mother and father lived together, so much of her daily care could be managed by my father with my help because I lived nearby.

Working together to help care for mom

My father and I made quite the team!

He was able to be physically present a lot of the time to make sure Mom would eat, have some sort of recreation. Mom loved playing cards, doing crossword puzzles, and word jumbles. They would watch their favorite tv programs together. Hello, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune fans! And manage getting to sleep on time.

I would be there almost daily to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, help with toileting and showering needs, and so on. Probably most importantly, I would offer emotional support and love.

Providing support, including emotional support

Mom was in the first stages of her Alzheimer's journey and beginning to struggle emotionally. She would often get frustrated with basic tasks and needed reassurance and kindness.

It was very difficult for my dad to see the love of his life struggling like she was, and he needed support to be able to deal with this new reality we were all facing. Thankfully, my children would stop by often to help - there is nothing like hugs from the grandchildren to make my mom and dad smile!

Seeking professional caregiving help

But over time my mother's decline became impossible to manage without outside help. My mother had slowly reached the point where she could no longer be left home alone, even for an hour.

Because my father and I run a business that requires us to be out of the house almost daily, we needed to find a professional caregiver that could be with mom when we couldn't.

This was a necessary but frightening situation for all of us to deal with.

The best intentions for mom's care

So many questions raced in our heads...

Who can you trust to care for your loved one in a kind and safe way? Will mom be afraid of someone she doesn't know in her house? What if the professional caregiver isn't attentive and mom falls and gets hurt? What if mom doesn't like them? How do you even find a professional caregiver?

We struggled with these very real questions and concerns for the entirety of mom's Alzheimer's journey, but we also learned many valuable lessons along the way.

Tips for finding a professional caregiver

  1. Consult your loved ones, doctors, nurses, and any other medical professionals for their recommendations of Home Health Care Agencies.
  2. Ask those around you who have utilized home health agencies for their experience and suggestions.
  3. Do online research of each agency recommended to you.
  4. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the agencies you are considering.
  5. Set up an interview with a minimum of two or three agencies and have them come to your house. Ask about the training required for their professional caregivers.
  6. Select the agency you want to work with. Select the hours of care you will need.
  7. Have the new caregiver come to your house to meet your loved one and other family members. Introduce the caregiver slowly to your loved one and observe how the caregiver interacts with your loved one.
  8. For the first few days with a new caregiver, remain in the house but in the background to just observe how your loved one is reacting to this new person. Offer reassurance to your loved one as needed.
  9. Monitor the situation between your loved one and their caregiver; remain in contact with the agency.

Finding a professional caregiver

Thankfully, we found a very sweet caregiver for my mom during the morning hours while my dad and I were at work. She was kind and attentive to my mom, and she got along well with my dad. My mom felt comfortable and safe with her.

It is difficult to find a professional caregiver for our loved ones as they struggle and decline with Alzheimer's, but with patience and a lot of information, it can be accomplished. Would you like to talk to others in the Alzheimer's community about their experience finding professional caregivers and additional tips? Reach out in our forums.

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