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

QUESTION: I know I need to hire someone to help me care for my mother, but I'm not sure how to ask the right questions. Do you have a checklist you prepare ahead of time? Veronica in Illinois, 53

ANSWER: Once you've determined what sort of help is required, the next step is to interview applicants. Always consider more than one candidate for the job. It's the best way to find a good match. When interviewing prospects, ask the following questions:

  1. How long have you been in the field?
  2. What is your educational background?
  3. What professional organizations do you belong to?
  4. Are you insured?
  5. Are you bonded?
  6. Where have you worked previously?
  7. Do you charge hourly/daily/monthly/overall/by the shift/?
  8. Will you travel if required?
  9. Do you charge any possible hidden expenses or ongoing fees?
  10. Is there a less expensive monthly rate available?
  11. What are your strengths?
  12. What are your weaknesses?
  13. Do you understand the Medicare/Medicaid eligibility process?
  14. Is there a difference in the cost of the day and night shifts?
  15. Are you reliable and honest?
  16. Are you an expert in your discipline?
  17. What payment is expected for vacation, holidays, sick days?
  18. Ask for references, then check them

Experience is a huge factor. 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 and your elder don't find yourself in a terrible predicament because you were afraid to approach a sensitive subject. Be up front about salary, wages, holiday pay, taxes, and legal paperwork. If your elder has a live-in aide/companion, accommodate with sleeping arrangements. It's your responsibility. Don't employ illegal aliens, and don't abuse or overwork the aide.

©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.