12/15/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

by Catherine Siskos, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Being a caregiver is a difficult job. If a caregiver you know can use some relief with help from a home care agency (nonmedical) here are steps you’ll want to take.

Start early.

The pandemic and a shifting job market have made it harder to find aides and get help from a home care agency. Plus, “the first person you hire may not be the best fit, and the first schedule you create may not be what you need long term,” says Christina Irving, client services director at the Family Caregiver Alliance.

Ask questions.

The home care agency is responsible for conducting background checks on the aides. Ask what it checks. You need to be able to trust this person around your home. Because caregiving is physically demanding work that can sometimes injure the caregiver, make sure the agency is licensed, bonded, and insured. You should also check with your own insurer if you need to make changes to your home or auto coverage. For example, most aides have their own cars to drive your loved one around, but if an aide will be using your vehicle, you will need to add them to your policy.

Related: Important questions to ask when interviewing a home care provider

Sell the idea.

The person needing the care may claim they don’t need an aide. Tell them it’s to help the caregiver; or you could have a doctor, care manager, or some other authoritative figure say that an aide is necessary, suggests Connie McKenzie, president of the Aging Life Care Association.

Emphasize that the help doesn’t have to be permanent, or else call the aide a housekeeper, adds Irving. That way, “it’s not about the individual not being independent but to help the household.”

Find the right person.

In finding appropriate help from a home care agency, consider aide characteristics, like gender, that might make an outsider more acceptable to the person needing care. Look for someone who shares some of the same hobbies. Irving had a client whose mom liked playing a particular card game, so they found an aide who knew the game and could play it with the mother.

Be on hand the first few sessions.

“You want to observe them and make sure they are taught any specific care needs that are unique to the individual being cared for,” Irving says. After that initial training, the family member can come in and out.

Don’t be present for an entire shift, she says, because “the person needing care may continue to rely on the caregiver and not turn to the home provider for help.”

Related: Not sure of your next step in caring for a loved one – or yourself? Take the Seniors Guide Care Assessment.

Catherine Siskos is managing editor at Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. For more on this and similar money topics, visit

© 2021 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff