Three or four generations ago, people who needed short-term help or long-term care depended upon a network of extended family members. Several generations lived under the same roof or within walking distance, and were available to act as caregivers to those in need.
Of course, times have changed. Today, family members can live hundreds or thousands of miles apart, our parents and grandparents can work well into their golden years, and those of us who are single working parents or working couples have demanding schedules. Thankfully, when we need help with our own family or with our extended family, professional caregivers are there to lend a hand.
Types of Caregivers
Broadly speaking, there are three categories of professional caregivers: non-medical home health services, home support services, and child care. Home health service caregivers are helpful for adults and children who are convalescing, the developmentally challenged, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Services can range from private duty nursing to live-in caregivers to medication supervision. For example, if your spouse has recently had surgery, you may need a caregiver for a few hours each day while you're at work. Similarly, a caregiver can help your mother or father continue to live independently by providing her or him with incontinence assistance, transportation to doctors' appointments, or physical therapy exercises.
Those who provide home support services can help in a number of areas. For example, they can help with meal planning and preparation, personal shopping or errands, and even do laundry and light housekeeping. They can also provide companionship for the person they're caring for.
Child care services can run the gamut from babysitting to providing in-home child care while you're at work to nannies who will live with you and your family. People in all types of family situations - from professional working couples to single parents to home-based business owners - turn to professional caregivers to help with child care.
Finding Quality Caregivers
Entrusting someone else with caring for a loved one is an enormous responsibility, and the selection process isn't always easy. However, when you use a reputable homecare agency, much of the legwork is already done. For example, a homecare agency will typically thoroughly screen caregivers. This may include face-to-face interviews, a national criminal check, a DMV check, and a sex offender database check. They should also require stellar performance ratings from applicants' previous employers.
When looking for a reputable homecare agency, it's important to find one that has been in business - and under the same management - for over a decade. It should be a member in good standing of the local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, and should have verifiable references.
Whether you need a babysitter or a nanny, a home attendant or a hospice caregiver, it's important to get the help that your loved one needs. Caregivers can provide both you and your family member with the support needed to live life to the fullest.