HIRE HELP WHEN IT'S NEEDED - Tips from Dr. Marion

By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Dr. Marion Tips


  1. Hire help where and when appropriate to share the caregiving load. Trust me, you'll need a break. Do research; ask your friends and your elder's friends for references. Then interview candidates and hire someone who understands the needs of your elder.
  2. Hiring help or assistance can be time consuming, but it's well worth the effort. If you're persistent, you'll eventually find the right person. After you interview an aide have your elder speak with the candidate to make sure they feel comfortable. It's your elder's home and space, and he or she might not take too kindly to "outsiders."
  3. Your elder's needs can often be met by tapping into your network of family and friends. Look into this before you hire anyone else. Get as much free help as you can, but be clear about your elder's needs before asking for their assistance. How long will your loved require their help - a few weeks, months, a year?
  4. Hire help for the most common tasks such as cleaning the home, handyman work, and taking care of trash disposal. You can hire help on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, all depending on your needs, financial ability, and your elder's wishes. Search out community and government services as well as family aides and religious organizations.
  5. Never abuse hired help. Aides should be hired to perform the agreed upon chores directly related to your elder's care. Don't load them up with extraneous duties, even if you see they're highly competent, unless of course the aide agrees to it and they are financially compensated.
  6. Experience matters. Determine if the aide has done this sort of work before, where, and for how long. Can the aide shave a man who can't hold up his head? Has the aide ever changed an adult diaper? Ask the tough questions so you don't find yourself in a terrible predicament because you were afraid to approach a sensitive subject.
  7. Draw up a contract and make sure all duties are clearly understood. Negotiate and sign a contract that explicitly states the terms of the agreement. You don't want any misunderstandings or ambiguities. Type up a clear list of duties to be accomplished and then post it on the refrigerator. This eliminates any confusion. The list should include timeframes for the work to be completed.
  8. Does your elder need an aide or companion to live in-home part time or 24/7? Once you determine this, you'll know who you should try to hire. Don't start calling for help until you know this answer.
  9. Who pours and dispenses your elder's medication? A clear, daily chain of command has to be established or else you risk under or over-medicating your elder.
  10. Ask about any helper's educational and professional background as well as references, then check them. It's always better to be thorough and safe than slack and sorry.

©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.


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