Get all your questions answered about home care for your senior parent or other loved one. Use our list of helpful questions to ask a home care agency or a caregiver as you choose the right arrangements for your loved one.

Seniorly Home Care FAQs

   

General Home Care Questions

Questions to Ask a Home Care Agency

Questions to Ask a Home Caregiver

With 90 percent of seniors preferring to age in place in their own homes, home care is a viable senior care option for many families. As you consider your alternatives for providing your loved one with the care they need, you may have a few questions about home care, how it works, and what it costs. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about senior care provided at home and get the answers you need.

 

General Home Care Questions

    

  • What kind of help can an in-home caregiver provide?

All in-home caregivers help with the activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. In most cases, they also handle meal preparation. Sometimes caregivers also provide transportation, driving the seniors under their care to medical appointments, errands, and entertainment as needed. Another key area in which caregivers help is medication management. Many seniors need reminders to take their medications on schedule. In-home caregivers can help with this, pre-measuring medications and preparing them for those times when they're not on duty.

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  • In what ways is home care beneficial?

Seniors tend to be happier and healthier when they can age in place in their own homes. Even if they need a little help with errands, preparing meals or getting dressed, they feel a sense of relief that they can get the help they need without having to give up everything that's familiar. As a family member, you benefit as well because you can feel the peace of mind that your loved one is being well cared for. Family caregivers also benefit from the respite they get when an in-home caregiver arrives.

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  • How are in-home caregivers paid?

If you're working with a home care agency, the agency takes care of all payment, including any tax withholding. In most cases, you can expect to be invoiced regularly or to set up automatic payments. Unless you forgo using a home care agency and try to hire a caregiver independently, you should never have to handle money directly with a caregiver.

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  • How frequently does a home caregiver come to my loved one's home?

That depends on your loved one's needs. Some aging seniors require only a few hours of help each week or a brief visit daily to help with medication or meals. Perhaps you're a family caregiver who wants some outside help to give yourself a break now and then. Others, especially those in need of memory care, may require round-the-clock monitoring and services. Discuss your loved one's needs with their physician and with your home care agency.

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  • What steps are involved in hiring via a come care agency?

Start by discussing your loved one's needs with the agency to see how they're able to help. The agency should be willing to answer any questions you have, including questions about costs. They should also arrange a visit with you and optimally with your loved one. After that visit, the agency should prepare a care plan for your loved one and suggest potential caregivers for you to interview.

For more information on evaluating home care companies, click here.

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  • What medical services can a home care agency provide?

Some home care agencies are able to match your loved one with registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists and other medical professionals, as needed. If your loved one has an acute or chronic medical condition, provide the specifics to the home care agencies you interview to see what resources they have to meet the particular needs involved.

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  • How much does home care cost?

Several variables go into the answer to this question. Much depends on what services your loved one needs and on how many hours per day an in-home caregiver is present. Expect to pay $20 to $40 an hour. If your loved one just needs help with the activities of daily living, such as dressing and bathing, you can expect costs at the lower end of that scale. If they require round-the-clock assistance due to memory care needs or recovery from surgery, costs will be higher. Finally, if your loved one lives in a city, the costs are likely to be higher than if they're located in a rural area.

The cost of hiring a caregiver will depend upon the type of assistance you need. Home care services can be provided 4 to 24 hours a day. Depending upon your needs, home care is often the least expensive approach when compared to assisted living or nursing home costs. Some long-term care insurance policies cover home care services. Our fees are competitive with other full-service home care agencies and you can view our current rates here. Please contact us so we can learn more about your needs.

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  • What financial resources are available to help with home care costs?

If your loved one has long-term care insurance, it should cover most or even all your home care costs. Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance may cover some of the medical services involved, if any. In addition, various state-based programs may cover some of the costs. The Veterans Administration has several programs that provide financial help with in-home care for veterans.

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Questions to Ask a Home Care Agency

    

  • What kind of services do you provide?

All home care agencies should be able to provide your loved one with assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs), including grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, and meals. If your loved one needs medical services in addition (think about diabetes care, wound care, physical therapy, and the like), you should make sure the home care agency you're interviewing can actually meet those needs.

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  • Are your caregivers licensed and insured?

One of the benefits of working with a home care agency is the knowledge that your caregiver has been professionally vetted. Most home care agencies perform criminal background checks before adding caregivers to their roster. Make sure they're also providing liability and workers' compensation insurance for their caregivers.

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  • How often do you evaluate your caregivers?

You may be establishing a long-term relationship when you bring an in-home caregiver to your loved one's home, so it's important to know whether the home care agency will continue to be involved in that relationship. Ask as well whether the agency provides any kind of ongoing training, especially if your loved one has memory care issues.

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  • What training do you provide your caregivers?

Your home care agency should make sure that all its caregivers meet minimum standards, and you can ask what those standards are. In addition, ask what continuing training is provided. Special training for helping those with dementia is in particular a good idea because of the unique behavior symptoms these seniors display.

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  • Does the same caregiver come to my loved one's home every day?

Seniors can become very attached to their caregivers due to the intimate nature of their relationship. If the person coming to your loved one's home changes frequently, it can be upsetting. Because of that, you should make sure your home care agency is dedicated to finding the right caregiver match for your loved one and maintaining that relationship. If your loved one needs care around the clock, you'll need to arrange for multiple caregivers.

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  • Who makes the final choice of caregiver?

Your home care agency will do its best to match just the right caregiver with your loved one, looking at factors including your loved one's medical and non-medical needs, languages spoken, availability, and personality fit. You and your loved one should both be involved in the final decision, and you should be able to meet with any prospective caregiver in advance. If you're not satisfied, the home care agency should be willing to make any changes you request.

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  • What if my loved one isn't happy with their caregiver?

Your home care agency should be prepared to change your loved one's caregiver if you have any misgivings at all. Ask how flexible they're prepared to be. That being said, sometimes seniors in early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease can become argumentative and easily irritated. If your loved one requests a new caregiver frequently, you may be seeing this particular symptom at play rather than any fault of the caregiver.

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  • How can I be sure the caregiver is providing the required services?

Home care agencies often send people out to check up on their caregivers, especially when the client-caregiver relationship is new. You should also feel free to pop in to visit your loved one while the caregiver is there. If you wish, ask the home care agency if they can provide itemized invoices that detail the services provided on a daily basis.

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  • Who will my point person be to handle any issues regarding my caregiver?

It's helpful if your home care agency assigns you a single point person to handle any questions you have regarding your caregiver. Someone who's familiar with your loved one's unique situation is best positioned to help find a substitute when your regular caregiver calls in sick or fails to show up, for example. In addition, ask what procedures are already in place at the agency if you need back-up care.

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  • What insurance plans do you accept?

If your loved one has long-term care insurance, go over the policy with the home care agency to make sure all services are covered. Seniors who need medical care may find that Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance will cover some of the expenses of home care. Make sure to discuss all financial arrangements, including insurance coverage, with the home care agencies you're considering before you make your final choice.

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Questions to Ask a Home Caregiver

     

  • Tell me about other aging seniors you've cared for.

One of your key questions is likely to center on the issue of whether your prospective caregiver will actually truly care for your loved one. That's a tough question to ask, though. Instead, ask about the previous clients the caregiver has worked with, and you should be able to sense the caregiver's level of empathy and caring.

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  • Do you have specific experience caring for people in my loved one's condition?

Special training is often required for caregivers assisting seniors with Alzheimer's care and dementia. If your loved one has a specific medical condition, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or heart issues, you may be able to find a caregiver who has experience with the specific symptoms and issues involved. That background could come in handy when trying to assess whether any new symptoms are related to the existing condition or a sign of something new.

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  • How will you respond to any emergency?

Whether it's an aggressive or violent outburst from a senior with Alzheimer's disease, a slip and fall causing injury, or a power outage that cuts off your loved one from the world, eventually your caregiver will have to deal with an emergency situation. Are they prepared with basic first aid skills? Have they been trained in how to respond to the specific emergencies your loved one might face? Ask how they've dealt with any emergencies in the past.

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  • May I speak to your references?

While some caregivers form personal bonds with their clients that last for many years, in general turnover is fairly high among caregivers. There are of course many reasons a caregiver might leave — the senior they're caring for might move or need a different level of care, for example. But it's a good idea to ask to speak to previous clients to help ascertain that you've found the right person to care for your loved one.

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Review our other articles on assisted living:

For more resources on senior living, click here.


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