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Tips on Choosing an In-Home Caregiver for Persons with Dementia


Posted on July 23, 2008 by DementiaGuide

Tips on Choosing an In-Home Caregiver for Persons with Dementia

Continuing to live at home after a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other form of dementia may be the right choice for the person diagnosed, but in most cases, he or she can't do it alone. The attending physician should provide a dementia overview indicating what caregivers will facein the coming months. Although persons with dementia may be able to live independently for some time, an in-home caregiver either a family member or a trained care provider should beinvolved to ensure he or she is safe, and to assist with daily activities as the symptoms of the illness progress. The advantages of an in-home caregiver are obvious - the person with dementia can stay in their own house and maintain a level of their daily living activities for a period of time. Many physicians believe individuals with dementia often fare better in the early stages when they are in their own homes because they can stick with the routines they've been accustomed to for years. Being able to interact with friends and neighbors and to walk around their own community also can stimulate a person with dementia to retain initiative.

Choosing the Right Caregiver

There are many agencies that supply in-home caregivers, but not all offer caregivers familiar with dementia or with the training and skills required to manage symptoms of dementia. If in-home assistance is the right choice, hiring someone appropriatelyqualified is as important. Potential hires should be asked lots of questions, and if possible, the person with dementia should sit in on the interview ashe or she will feel more open to an in-home caretaker if included in the process. Some of the basic questions during an interview are:

  • Ask prospective caregivers about theirtraining and/or certification. Find out whether they havea background working with dementia and check references.
  • Be sure the caregiver or agency has a back-up plan in the event of an emergency. If he or she is sick or can't make it on a scheduled day, who will fill-in?
  • What chores will the in-home caregiver provide? This is extremely important, and should be discussed at length. Discuss how this might change over time as dementia symptoms worsen and there is less time for chores.
  • What are the caregiver's medical qualifications? Does he or she know CPR and first aid? Are certifications current? Is he or she bonded and insured?
  • Does the caregiver have safe, reliable transportation? Is he or she willing to drive the person with dementia to hair appointments or dentist appointmentsor tothe store or parkoccasionally?
Any information given by a prospective caregiver should be confirmed and references should be checked. A police background check may also be in order. If interview questions are answered satisfactorily, give the prospective caregiver an opportunity to ask questions. He or she should be given an overview of the status of the person with dementia. If hired, the caregiver should be given contact information for family members, friends, and doctors to contact in an emergency. Likewise, the person with dementia should have the opportunity to ask questions and get to know the prospective caregiver. The rapport between a caregiver and person with dementia is a vital part of anyin-home care arrangement. The final choice of an in-home caregiver is often left to family and friends of the person with dementia. Interviewing carefully and considering all relevant factors will help decision-makers in their selection.

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