Assess your needs
Do you simply need help with such daily activities as bathing, dressing and preparing meals? Or do you need medical or skilled nursing care as well? What resources do you have available to pay for such assistance?
Ask a lot of questions
Does the agency screen and train caregivers? Do caregivers undergo a criminal background check? (A certified home health aide, for example, must pass such scrutiny and cannot have certain convictions.) Does the agency handle all of the taxes and insurance? Are the agency and worker both bonded? Will Medicare, ALTCS or your private insurance cover any of the costs?
Find out your responsibilities
What taxes will you be required to pay if you hire the worker on your own?
Seek referrals from a trustworthy source
Avoid using a "help wanted" ad to hire a caregiver. You do not know the background—or motives—of those who respond. Be wary of ads seeking employment for an individual caregiver for the same reason. For lists of home care agencies and home health care agencies, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.
Consider taking some additional precautions if you do hire someone. It might be wise, for example, to move your valuables to another location for safekeeping—or at least lock them up. Unfortunately, seniors have lost many precious belongings to dishonest caregivers.