Types of caregivers for seniors and tips to choose

Caregivers are a great source of help for the elderly, especially those with health and mobility issues. They help seniors perform daily tasks like grooming and toileting, improving their quality of life. However, finding the right caregiver for specific requirements can be a tall task as there are many factors to consider. Here are a few handy details to make the selection process more manageable for seniors and their families.

Types of home senior caregivers
Depending on their health situation, seniors may require assistance with specific tasks. So, it is crucial to hire someone who has experience and expertise in managing those tasks effectively. Caregivers can be classified into the following types based on the work they specialize in:

Personal care aides (PCAs)
PCAs act as companions and helpers to the elderly. They talk to them, cook meals, assist them with bathing and dressing, accompany them for walks in the neighborhood, perform minor housekeeping tasks, pick up treatments, and help with shopping and doctors’ appointments.

PCAs possess varying degrees of expertise and experience in the field. They may also undergo training depending on the guidelines set by the state. However, some states do not have any formal requirements, and one may work as a PCA without a license.

PCA services usually tend to be an out-of-pocket cost, meaning private health insurance policies and Medicare/Medicaid do not cover them.

Home health aides (HHAs)
The training requirements for these caregivers are stricter. As per the federal guidelines, HHAs should complete at least 75 hours of training; however, the certification and training requirements vary from state to state.

HHAs are well-equipped to monitor a senior’s health parameters, such as pulse rate. Additionally, like PCAs but with greater expertise, they can assist the elderly with bathing, using the bathroom, dressing, and other daily living activities. These caregivers can also prepare meals, provide a source of conversation and companionship, and carry out light housekeeping tasks.

The care services of HHAs are comparable to that of PCAs, but the former has greater expertise in health care and undergoes more training and active practice in their field of work. Therefore, compared to standard PCAs, the service costs of HHAs are relatively higher.

Registered nurses
Registered nurses possess plenty of experience and training in the healthcare industry. They can develop extensive care plans for seniors, perform timely health assessments, and provide nursing care. Registered nurses are also adept at supervising members of the nursing team, such as certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and vocational nurses. In senior care homes, they can perform case managerial tasks, such as coordinating staff members responsible for planning and overseeing their clients’ home senior care needs.

Registered nurses need to be highly qualified and experienced to land a job. They hold a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree in nursing, which is a four-year program. Some may have an associate’s degree in nursing, which is a two-year program. On top of these, registered nurses also need to pass a state-administered examination to obtain a legitimate license, which enables them to provide home care for seniors.

Tips for selecting a senior caregiver
While evaluating or comparing candidates, one must pay attention to a few crucial factors. Here are some tips for choosing an ideal caregiver:

Hire someone with a likable personality
Personality is an underrated and overlooked aspect of caregivers, but it is just as vital as their degrees and experience. Caregivers are supposed to be companions and friends to old people, so they must have a cheerful personality. While there is no way to assess somebody’s personality through a few meetings, seniors or their representatives hiring caregivers must rely on their gut instinct to evaluate this aspect. Pre-selection interviews are a good way to determine if candidates have common interests or personality traits that make them the “right choice” for the job.

Verify their licenses, qualifications, and experience
One must perform thorough background checks before opting for a caregiver’s services. This is perhaps obvious when hiring for any job. Home senior caregivers, such as registered nurses, must have the documentation, knowledge, and, above all, day-to-day know-how of their profession. This is especially important if the patient requires healthcare assistance daily. Based on which state one is living in, they must also check the candidate’s certification and licenses and conduct interviews to ensure they are permitted to practice. Caregivers with five to ten years of experience are considered ideal for the job.

Discuss the nature of the job
Clients need to be transparent when discussing the kind of assistance they need. One should also make it clear to their caregivers whether they need their attention 24/7. Ask them if they are willing to work only with one senior citizen during the contracted period.

Apart from the above, factors such as insurance, language skills, cooking skills, ability to deal with pets, and other aspects can be considered.

Best places to find quality caregivers
To find caregivers, one can rely on word-of-mouth references, job lead websites, social media pages of home care services, local community groups and events, and community bulletin boards. Individuals can also look for caregiver ads in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and other sources.

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