Finding An In-Home Care Provider on the Internet
When my mom came to live with me and my family a year ago, I knew I would need help but couldn't yet imagine what that would look like.
My mom is still in the early stages of her Alzheimer's diagnosis and is very independent. I thought it would be easy for me to meet her needs and raise my three young children.
Finding and hiring in-home care
After a few months, my husband and I were haggard and exhausted. We needed help. Big time.
There are a lot of ways to find caregiving help but we ended up finding a professional on Care.com, a website that connects families with caregivers.
This is not an advertisement or endorsement for Care.com but my own personal experience.
Start by figuring out what help you need
Mom didn't need any help with her activities of daily living (ADLs). The main area where I was stretched very thin was driving.
Mom doesn't drive anymore since her diagnosis but she loves to run errands. She enjoys going to Costco and the grocery store multiple times a week just for fun. I was ragged from trying to meet her needs and also get my kids to school and all the places they needed to go every day.
Mom also had just moved to our state and didn't know anyone but us. I wanted her to meet other people and start to build relationships.
Since Mom didn't need specialized medical, personal care, or help with mobility, I narrowed my search to companion care and transportation help.
Explore all your caregiver options
We have a lot of local options for senior care but it took a while to find a good fit for my mom.
County senior centers have lots of activities, energy, and even daily meals. However, it wasn't geared toward those living with dementia, and Mom didn't want to go by herself.
Someone told me to ask friends, neighbors, people at church. Some ladies bravely volunteered to help once or twice, but I needed someone with more experience with the disease and a dependable time commitment.
Senior daycare centers are for those more advanced in the disease than Mom (and those would require me to drive more.)
I liked that the senior care companies had professional employees with experience. But they require a minimum number of hours per week, pricey fees, and sometimes you don't get the same helper every time.
Finally, I read that other caregivers found help on Care.com, a website that my friends have successfully used to find great babysitters and nannies for their kids.
Do your due diligence
I knew that going through a service like this requires you to do your due diligence. I also found some good tips on Care.com itself. They have lots of articles on how to hire a caregiver, safety tips, and how to work out compensation and contracts.
I found it to be a very easy service to use. I used the search tools to look for caregivers with experience with dementia. You can see reviews from past clients and any professional credentials. You can also run background checks right through the website and it keeps personal information like social security numbers private.
I narrowed my search down to two caregivers with a lot of experience and great reviews. After I messaged them through the website, they replied back and because of the pandemic, we set up a phone interview.
Don't skip the interview
This is a very important part of the process. This is where you ask all your questions and get a feel for personality and fit.
You will likely also learn a lot during the interview based on what they choose to share. The caregiver we ended up hiring told me many stories about scenarios with past clients (anonymously, of course).
I was able to see how much experience and comfort she had working with elderly people with dementia. She also told me that she commits to staying with clients as long as they need it, something I hadn't thought to ask, and that was reassuring to know I wouldn't have to bounce between caregivers.
Talk to the caregiver's references
They provided phone numbers for references and I was able to call and have extensive conversations with their past clients. I called all of the numbers they gave me and I'm glad I did.
During the interviews, I asked a lot of questions, many of which seemed overkill. But I knew my loved one was going to be entrusted to this caregiver and I needed to feel totally comfortable with the person who was in my home with my own family.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Once all the boxes were checked and I felt good about one of the candidates from Care.com, I had to take the plunge and hire her.
If you're like me, you would sometimes rather keep shouldering the burden and refuse to ask for help. Don't do this. This caregiving journey is a marathon, not a sprint.
Go ahead and try out the caregiver if they seem like a good candidate. You aren't stuck with them forever and you can always find someone else if it's not the right fit.
Worth the effort
It took a little faith and work but I was able to find an amazing caregiver who is great with my mom and has extensive experience with people living with dementia. She has helped us for over a year and we think she is wonderful.
I am so thankful to have found someone to help us so my mom can live with family as long as possible.
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