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How Do I Go About Finding and Hiring an In-Home Caregiver for My Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease?

Feb 25, 2008
You can get a list of private duty agencies to provide in-home care or a list can be obtained from your Area Agency on Aging, Department on Aging, Social and Rehabilitation Services, or Alzheimer's Association. These agencies provide you with the people you need. They have sitters, homemakers and aides who all perform specific duties. If a nurse or skilled care is what you need, a home care agency provides that. Typically the doctor must be involved with setting up skilled services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, etc. The doctor should have information about these agencies.

Or, you can hire an individual on your own. There are lists of healthcare providers that work independent of an agency. The Alzheimer's Association keeps a list of these individuals, but of course cannot recommend one over the other. What they can tell you is feedback they have received from other caregivers and their satisfaction level with certain care providers.

When hiring on your own, treat this as an employer/employee relationship. Use an application form. Generic applications can be purchased from most office supply stores. Ask for a copy of identification such as a driver's license, social security card, and/or their certificate for nurse aide certification. And ask for a resume -- and references.

Interview several individuals. Schedule a time when they can come to your home and spend time with your loved one. Notice how comfortable your loved one is and how the two interact. Include your loved one in the process. Ask about each interviewee. Individuals with dementia have somewhat of a sixth sense. Let them help you make the decision on who to hire.

Depending on your needs, you may want to hire a certified nurse aide. They are trained to help with dressing, bathing, feeding, and setting up medications. They typically have experience in working with individuals with Alzheimer's. Also check for CPR certification, and get a copy of it.

Once you've hired someone, keep a file of identification, certificates, and background check results. Orient your employee to your house and loved one, especially any special needs your loved one has. Explain daily routines and suggest things your loved one enjoys. Nurse aides can also cook and clean, but if that is all you need, a homemaker is more affordable. They can also sit with your loved one but can't do any direct care.

A caregiver support group is a great place to get information and referrals to both agencies and individuals members have used for their loved ones.
About the Author
William G. Hammond, J.D., is the author of The Alzheimer's Legal Survival Guide. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia, you can get FREE real-world strategies for dealing with the devastating emotional, social, and financial consequences at www.alzheimersanswers.com.
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