Hiring Help

My father recently passed away, leaving behind my 85 year-old mother. Until recently, she was 100% self-sufficient, but now she’s in declining health and I need to hire an aide to help care for her. Do you have any helpful hints?

Michelle in Illinois, 58

Hiring an aide is a very important part of the caregiving process, and it’s worth taking the time to do it right. Don’t hire the first person who comes along. Your aide needs to be a good personality match with your mother. After all, they’ll be spending countless hours together. In the best case scenario, an aide could become like a new member of your family.

Be clear what you expect from an aide. Before you interview anyone, know when they’ll start the job, how many hours they’ll be needed, and list out the specific work they’ll be doing. Also pre-determine any requirements you have. Do they have to be a non-smoker? Are they taking medications that could hinder their performance? Do they have any allergies? Do they understand your mother’s dietary needs? Ask about their educational background, training, and former jobs. Inquire about their strengths and weaknesses. I always check at least three references. Also, if they are coming from an agency, I interview their supervisor since they might enter the home as well.

I suggest hiring someone who has experience with the elderly, someone who really understands how to keep your mother’s sense of dignity and pride intact as time passes.
Your mother is an individual who still needs kindness, and she still needs to be spoken to as an adult. It’s also important that an aide know how to cook, and I don’t mean warm a can on the stove or pop something in the microwave. Fresh food is higher in nutrition, and cooking it in your mother’s home can create smells that trigger positive long term memories. Once you’ve hired the aide, include a days pay for orientation. Be sure to consider your mother’s opinion so the aide is the right fit. Once you’ve found a compatible aide, determine a daily and weekly schedule right away so everyone can get started on the right foot.

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