Dear Family Resource,
Every time I open a newspaper or magazine I see another article about an older adult, living alone, and being taken advantage of by a caregiver or family member. My dad has lived alone for many years. When he turned 75 he hired a lady who once worked for a neighbor’s elderly aunt. I’ve met her only once (I live across the country from my dad) and she seemed nice but after reading all those articles I’m starting to wonder, “Who is she really? Is she trustworthy? Is she the right person to help him as he gets older?” Dad is 80 now and I feel like I should know more about what is going on, but I don’t want to interfere. Should I do something or just stop worrying?
~Out of Sight and Worried
Dear Out of Sight,
I understand your concern. Hiring a home care worker is tricky and can entail a lot of work. When you use an agency such as Family Resource Home Care, the agency does the work including conducting background and reference checks, developing the tasks list or care plan, supervising the caregiver, making sure shifts are covered if the caregiver can’t be there, providing ongoing training, and acting as an intermediary.
Hiring a caregiver via a friend or family recommendation can work out well too, but somebody needs to provide the due diligence, set the parameters regarding tasks to be done, maintain a list of emergency contacts, update the medication list, and put in place a protocol and protections for handling money. When there is no agency providing oversight, and a family member is not present, then someone else needs to serve as a second set of eyes to assure that all is well and that the line between caregiver and client is clear. It is common for this line to become blurred and when that happens, a caregiver may overstep their bounds making it easy for the older adult to be taken advantage of.
You should speak to your dad. Maybe he has everything under control, or maybe he will welcome your involvement. My suggestion is that you and your dad contact a local elder care manager to be that second set of eyes, or hire a home care agency to take over. Oftentimes, the caregiver may opt to be hired by the agency to continue working with their client. Thank you for bringing this important question to light.