How to Know When to Bring in a Paid Caregiver
Not everyone will eventually need family or paid caregivers. Many people are independent and care for themselves all the way up to the end. Some people may just need a little bit of help from their loved ones to keep them independent while others need a lot of help and support as they age.
If you have an aging loved one who isn’t able to remain independent, it can be overwhelming and stressful, no matter how strong your relationship is. Once you add in the stress of managing your own life, particularly if you are still working or are also parenting children, being a family caregiver is not for the weak.
Of course, if you are fortunate enough to have siblings who you can share responsibilities with, or a strong caregiver network, you are already ahead of the game. You can also outsource some tasks like cleaning or even meal preparation. But sometimes, even with support and delegation, you may still need to hire a paid caregiver.
How do you know when it’s time to hire a paid caregiver?
Signs Your Aging Parent Needs a Caregiver
First and foremost, know that your parent needs a paid caregiver if providing care to your loved one is affecting your physical or emotional health. Don’t feel guilty about this. You can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself. Maybe you need a break a few hours a week or you need to take two weeks off. Find the right person and step away to take care of yourself. You’ll be a much better caregiver if you put your needs first.
Here are other signs it maybe be time for a paid caregiver:
- Physical Changes: If your aging parent has lost a considerable amount of weight or has taken a lot of falls, you may want to hire a paid caregiver to prepare meals and ensure your parent is safe at home.
- Decreased Mobility: If your aging parent has a difficult time moving around his/her home, you may want to hire a paid caregiver to ensure he can safely move through his home. Decreased mobility may mean that your parent can’t safely bathe on his/her own or prepare meals. A caregiver can help with those things, as well as help your parent improve mobility through an exercise or strength building routine established by a physical therapist.
- Decline in Hygiene or Grooming: If your normally well-groomed parent is suddenly slacking on hygiene or grooming, it may be because he/she is unable to bathe/handle grooming. A paid caregiver can come in to assist with these tasks.
- Dirty or Cluttered Home: If your aging parent normally kept a neat home, they may be struggling to keep up with normal household chores. Perhaps they aren’t able to push the vacuum or get too tired standing at the sink for a long period of time. A paid caregiver can come in for a few hours a week to help them keep up on these chores.
- Sick or Weak: If your parent is battling an illness or isn’t physically strong, you may want to hire a paid caregiver to take care of some of the standard home chores that they need help with, as well as provide help with standard activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming).
While some of these tasks can be delegated or divided amongst family members, sometimes it is important to bring in the pros – particularly when they need assistance with activities of daily living. Your aging parent may be embarrassed to have their adult child bathe them or assist with toileting or dressing. Bringing in a paid caregiver can help them preserve their dignity.
Paying for a Paid Caregiver
If part of your hesitation in bringing on a paid caregiver is the cost, there may be resources available to your family. If you haven’t done so, check out my Resources page for links to government programs available to seniors and caregivers.
Your parent may qualify for in home caregiving. I had a client who was very low income who was able to have a caregiver in her home for 20 hours per week through a federal program. You should also check with caregiving agencies. Some of them lower the hourly rate based on the amount of time you need a caregiver. So, for example, the rate may be $37 per hour but if you book 4 hours it can drop to $28 per hour.
If you haven’t already done this, reach out to your local senior center and Administration on Aging office. They may know of programs in your parent’s town that provide caregiving support to people like your parent. And of course, if your parent is a veteran, reach out to your local Veteran Administration office to find out if they have programs that provide caregivers.
There are options, but you may have to do a little digging to find them. It is definitely worth it to do your research.