Does My Loved One Need In-Home Care?

Determining if someone needs in-home care assistance is easier if you know what to look for and the questions to ask. Fearful of losing their independence, aging individuals will often mask or cover-up the signs and symptoms indicating they need assistance. You’ll need to ask revealing questions and look for patterns of behavior and neglect within these areas:

Activities of Daily Living

Difficulty walking, dressing, talking, eating, cooking, climbing steps, or managing medications by them self.

Personal Hygiene

Infrequent bathing, unusually sloppy appearance, bad body/mouth odor.

Responsibility Tasks

Unopened mail, unpaid bills, unfilled prescriptions, unreadable checkbook, phone calls aren’t returned, low food supply, laundry is piled up, spoiled food in refrigerator.

Health Condition

Weight change, appetite changes, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, burns, bruises, hearing loss, incontinence, spilling or dropping things (look for stains), sleeping too much or too little, dehydration.


Lack of interest in friendships, hobbies, or activities; curtains drawn day and night, no access to transportation.


Sadness or talk of feelings of depression and despair, abuse of alcohol or drugs, paranoia, refusal to communicate, unusual argumentativeness, verbal abuse.

Cognitive Abilities

Consistent forgetfulness about where things are, getting lost walking or driving, confusion, loss of reasoning skills, difficulty answering questions, inability to find the right word or complete a sentence, repetitive words or phrases, wandering, loss of sense of time or season, forgetting how to use ordinary things like a pencil, consistently forgetting to turn off stove, close windows, or lock doors.

More and more older people, electing to live independent, non-institutionalized lives, are receiving services from professional in-home care agencies as their physical capabilities diminish. Younger adults who are disabled or recuperating from acute illness are choosing home care whenever possible. Chronically ill infants and children are receiving sophisticated medical treatment in their secure home environments. Adults and children diagnosed with terminal illness also are being cared for at home, receiving compassion and maintaining dignity at the end of life. As hospital stays decrease, increasing numbers of patients need highly skilled services when they return home. Other individuals are able to stay at home to begin with, receiving safe and effective care in the comfort of their own homes through professional personal care agencies.

Do I Need a Caregiver Agency?

Today’s aging population requests in-home care services more than at any other time. In-home care companies provide general supervision and assistance with personal care and handle routine daily activities including light housekeeping, meal preparation, errand running, mail sorting and many other tasks. In-home care is also often requested by new mothers and those with a short-term disability or illness until they can get on their feet again. Is an in-home care agency the right option for you? You may what to think about the following benefits:

Benefit 1 Convenience makes it simple and easy to find a reputable in-home care company serving your area. You’ll work out a schedule and a list of duties your caregiver will perform when you meet with your selected company. The company will choose the best caregiver for you to ensure the care you receive is personalized to meet your exact needs as well as your schedule.

Benefit 2 Comfort

You’re able to continue living independently, in familiar surroundings because your caregiver comes to your home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re feeling ill or well, most people prefer the comfort of being in their home.

Benefit 3 Companionship

In-home care services can also provide you something we all need, companionship. You can have someone take care of your personal needs and your need for companionship. Most in-home care companies will match a caregiver to your personal care needs and to your personal interests.

Benefit 4 Cost-Effectiveness

You’ll receive one-on-one care and attention from your caregiver that you can’t get in a facility. That means greater value for every dollar. Plus, your caregiver may perform tasks previously handled by an errand service, a personal chef, a housekeeper, and someone to help you get around town. You personal caregiver can help you save money and time, too.

Benefit 5 Security

Having a professional caregiver in your home can provide an additional level of security. However, when contacting an in-home care company, first check on how the agency screens caregivers and manages their staff. Then, make sure your selected agency is properly licensed, if required by your state, insured and that its caregivers are fidelity bonded.

Benefit 6 Assurance

In-home care assures you and your family peace of mind. Many adult children of aging parents can’t regularly pop-in to check on their loved ones or tend to their needs. With an agency’s caregiver in the home, families are regularly updated as to the well-being of their parents. Having a personal, caring, professional caregiver in the home provides everyone peace of mind.

How to Select a Caregiver Agency

We’ve made it easy to find those in-home care agencies serving your home, and below you’ll find a list of questions to use as a guide during your selection process. That way, you’re sure to ask the same basic questions of each company you contact in order to make the best choice. You’re about to select someone who will come into the home of your loved one on a regular basis to provide care, so you have a right to know as much as you can about the agency, the people and the services they will be providing.

Here are some questions you’ll want to consider:
General Questions About the Agency

  1. What type of agency is your company?
  2. Does our state require your agency to be licensed?
  3. Is the agency currently licensed by the state?
  4. What services does your agency provide? What services can’t or won’t your agency provide?
  5. Are services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Is management available 24/7?
  6. How long has your agency been providing services?
  7. Can I talk to references that have used your services recently?
  8. How do I go about arranging for care to start?
  9. How soon can you start care?
  10. Do you have any minimum requirements regarding the length or frequency of care you provide?
  11. Is your agency, including your caregiver staff, insured?

Questions About Agency Caregivers

  1. What types of staff can your agency provide?
  2. How do you screen and select your caregivers?
  3. Describe your typical caregiver to me? What kind of caregiver can I expect from your agency?
  4. What training and support will your agency provide to my caregiver?
  5. Are your caregivers employees of the agency? Or, would I as the client, be the legal employer?
  6. Are your caregivers bonded (insured against theft or loss to a home) through the agency?
  7. What is the procedure if my caregiver does not report to work when scheduled?
  8. Can a different caregiver be requested if I am unhappy with the worker the agency sent?
  9. How many caregivers do you have on staff available to care for me at any given time?
  10. Can I interview the caregivers before they work in my home?

Questions About Costs

  1. What is the cost of services?
  2. How are your prices determined?
  3. Do you require a deposit or any type of payment in advance?
  4. How often does your agency bill me for services?
  5. Will your agency bill my LTC insurance company directly?

Questions About Quality

  1. Does the agency have references or satisfaction reports for itself and staff?
  2. Is the agency reviewed by an outside organization?
  3. When was the last review and are the results available to clients?
  4. What kind of system is there for receiving client problems or complaints and resolving them?
  5. Is there a written plan of care for each client?
  6. Are clients and family members involved in putting the plan together or reviewing it?

Questions About Management

  1. Who owns the agency? How long have they owned the agency?
  2. Who is the manager in charge? What is there experience in the home care field?
  3. How can I get in touch with the agency and the manager on evenings and weekends?