Though her mind was sharp, with increasing physical limitations Serena Gold, 83, could no longer do everything necessary to stay completely independent. Remaining in her own home among familiar things was important to her and her family for peace of mind, sense of security, and a positive outlook. Making sure that can happen in a safe, compassionate, and enriching environment is the challenge many families and their elderly loved ones face.

Helping an Aging Loved One Live Independently and Safely

“There are a lot of home care agencies out there, along with people advertising as independent caregivers,” son Roger said. “When dad got sick a few years ago, mom had experience with a private caregiver — and it wasn’t all good. This time we wanted to make a group decision among mom, my siblings, and I about just whom we were letting into the house. Unfortunately, we weren’t sure how or where to begin.”

The following eight tips can help you make the right decision in obtaining in-home care for yourself or your senior loved one, including the pros and cons between hiring a licensed home care agency versus a private caregiver.

1) Assess Your Individual Care Needs

Are needs non-medical — largely about activities of daily living (ADLs), which include dressing, bathing, mobility, errands, meal preparation, light cleaning, laundry, etc. Or do they involve visits from skilled nursing? Perhaps companion care is more in line at this point. Making a detailed list can help you communicate effectively with prospective resources.

2) Ask for Recommendations

Talk with your medical provider, coworkers, family, and friends about people and/or licensed home care agencies they may have engaged. As with most things, there is nothing as reassuring as a personal recommendation.

3) Home Care Agency vs. Private Caregiver?

When hiring a private caregiver, you are responsible for conducting a background check, confirming certifications, daily oversight, and more. For some families this is fine but working with a reputable and licensed home care agency means the responsibility is theirs, and you can focus on being a loving daughter or son or spouse to your senior family member.

4) Determine a Home Care Agency’s Viability

Agencies operate under two models: franchise or independent ownership. Franchises have established policies, procedures, pricing, and training programs and are overseen by the originator: the franchiser. An independent agency establishes its own policies and procedures. Check consumer reviews, ratings, and other online resources on both.

5) Ask the Right Questions

When interviewing a prospective home care agency, the following questions are important in helping make an informed decision:

  • Caregiver screening, background, and experience: What does it consist of?
  • Supervisory protocol: Are there drop-in supervisor visits? Is there monitoring homecare software used for time management and care plans for each visit?
  • How long has an agency has been providing care in the community?
  • Who owns the company and how long s/he has been in that role?
  • Ask to meet or talk with that individual and other staff members; look for consistency in their answers.
  • Explore hourly rates and other costs (if any), and billing schedule.

In short, be an investigative reporter! When it comes to a caregiver for a precious loved one, you can’t possibly ask too many questions.

6) Paying for In-Home Care: Long-Term Care Insurance, Private Pay, Veteran’s Assistance, Medicare, etc.

Paying for in-home care is often a concern. Contrary to popular opinion, in most cases Medicare does not cover home health care unless someone is homebound. Determine what methods of payment the agency you are considering accepts. If Long-Term Care Insurance is accepted, often policies — even those in place for years — are complicated to access. Will the agency help you manage your LTCi claim? Will it advocate on your loved one’s behalf for veterans benefits?

7) Interviewing Caregivers

Exceptional caregiving goes beyond skills and experience. How the caregiver relates to the client, and vice versa, are crucial for optimal outcomes. As in any relationship, not all personalities match, so it is important to take the time to decide on the best pairing. At the outset, this is something the agency should take steps to determine as well.

8) Ask for Client References

If someone you know and trust has recommended a home care agency or a private caregiver, that may be enough for you. If not, and perhaps in addition, ask to be connected with references including client families, referral partners, and others. Take any necessary time to conduct all manner of due diligence. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’d like to learn more about how a trained caregiver at Amada Senior Care can help your senior loved one live independently and safely at home, please connect with us by calling 866-752-1961 or clicking HERE for the nearest Amada office near you.


“8 Tips on Choosing a Home Care Agency Versus Private Caregiver,” written by Beth Herman, Amada blog contributor.