What to Look for When Hiring a Senior Caregiver

Even the most dedicated family member may need to make room for paid outside caregiving if it is clearly in an elder loved one’s best interest. It may not be an easy transition, but it can be important to know what to look for when hiring caregiving help. After all, the person you choose  will have intimate access to a vulnerable loved one.

Let us share with you several key points to consider as you look to hire a professional caregiver.


Make sure any prospective caregivers are appropriately licensed and insured to perform the care services you are hiring them to do. There are three general certifications for home caregivers: an HHA, or home health aide; a CNA, or certified nursing assistant; and an LVN, or licensed vocational nurse. These licenses allow for most levels of in-home care but, in most instances, not invasive health care, such as giving an injection. 

Personality Fit.

Even if a caregiver has all the proper credentials to meet an elder loved one’s needs, it is still no guarantee that he or she will be the right fit, which is a huge part of successful caregiving. Keep in mind that you are signing up a stranger to spend time alone with an aging adult, and that a personality mismatch is a real possibility with undesirable results. Make sure to interview caregiver candidates, and seek feedback from your elder loved one.


Hiring a caregiver is not all that different from hiring an employee. Part of that process involves checking in with named references and performing basic background checks. You may want to know, for example, if any complaints have been filed against a  prospective caregiver. A home care agency should provide reliable information, but a little research can add extra assurance.


If you are presented with a contract from a home health care agency, it would be worthwhile to have a qualified attorney look it over and identify any areas of concern. Similarly, if you are considering hiring your own independent caregiver, constructing a contract is best handled by an elder law attorney. Above all, you need to know your rights, and the rights of your elder loved one regarding quality care.

We know this can be a hard transition for both the senior and the family. We encourage you to schedule a meeting and ask us your questions on this important topic.

Holding a Family Caregiving Meeting

A family caregiving meeting is an essential tool when dealing with the care of an aging loved one. These meetings are beneficial for helping to keep all family members abreast of decisions that need to be made, changes in diagnosis or prognosis, and help to ensure that all family members feel that they have a voice. Family meetings can also help to keep caregiving responsibilities from falling solely on the shoulders of one family member. In addition, family caregiving meetings can foster cooperation among family members and lessen the stress associated with caring for an aging loved one.

Who should attend a family caregiving meeting?

There are a number of people who should be included in a family caregiving meeting. First and foremost, it is important to include the aging loved one in the meeting whenever possible. This helps the aging loved one to feel that they are being heard and that their opinions and thoughts are being considered. If a spouse is living, the spouse should be included, as well as any children and possibly siblings of the aging person. Some families may choose to include other family members, but this really varies from one family to another. Anyone else involved in care for the person should also be there. This could include paid caregivers, family friends, or neighbors. Depending on family dynamics, a facilitator can be helpful in running the meeting.

When should a family have a caregiving meeting?

First it is important to note that family caregiving meetings are not a one and done event. They must occur on a regular basis. The first family meeting can occur before an aging loved one actually needs care. This can give the person who may eventually need care more say in their future care, but often times this does not occur. Most families find that the initial meeting needs to occur when an aging loved when begins to show signs of needing care or when a diagnosis is given that determines care will soon be needed. In addition, meetings should be scheduled regular to discuss changes in diagnosis, prognosis, or general needs of the loved one or the caregivers.

How can a family hold a successful caregiving meeting?

The key to having a successful caregiving meeting is cooperation. This doesn’t mean that family members will agree on everything, but it is important that all family members are respectfully heard and considered. Families must be willing to compromise and seek the best plan for their aging loved one. Additionally, a smoothly run meeting should have an agenda and families should try to stay focused on the items included on the agenda. When holding a meeting, always put things in writing and be sure that all those involved get a copy of the important information and everyone’s responsibilities.

What challenges do families face in caregiving meetings?

One of the biggest challenges to family caregiving meetings is the family’s history. All families have their own dynamics that can cause problems in a caregiving meeting. There may be members of the family who are at odds with one another, creating an obstacle to having a successful caregiving meeting. The role that each family member plays can be a challenge. Some members may be overbearing and demand control, while others are peacemakers and do not feel free to share their thoughts. Another challenge is that some family members may be in denial of the severity of an aging loved one’s needs which could make it difficult to get a consensus for care.

Family caregiving meetings are beneficial and necessary when an aging loved one can no longer care for themselves. These meetings can help to divide the responsibilities of caregiving and reduce stress placed on the family members. It is important that families remember that the meetings are for the care of their loved one and cooperate with one another to help the process to run more smoothly and successfully.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.


This Holiday Season Do You Know the Ways to Say Thank You to a Caregiver?

The season of giving thanks is almost upon us. While you may plan to spend the holidays showing your gratitude and appreciation to your close friends and family members, is your caregiver on your list of people to thank this Thanksgiving?

A caregiver takes on many roles. Whether he or she is an unpaid family member or a qualified professional, your caregiver puts his or her own life on pause to care for your loved one. This is why we want to share with you some simple ways to help your caregiver feel noticed, valued, and appreciated this holiday season.

Assume some of your caregiver’s responsibilities.

Caregivers selflessly give much of their time and energy on a daily basis to care for your loved one, without asking for much in return. When most of us think about caregiving, it is easy to focus on the care recipient instead of the caregiver. Caregivers, however, also need support and care. Whether it’s helping with his or her yard work, cooking a meal, or just making yourself available to spend time with the loved one they are caring for, we encourage you to allow the caregiver in your life to take a well-earned break that will benefit all of you.

Write your thoughts down on paper.

We know it may be hard to put your gratitude into words, however, a handwritten note or letter, no matter how long, can make a meaningful impact on the caregiver in your life. It is important to remember that the care recipient may not necessarily be able to say “thank you” to his or her caregiver. Putting some of your own thoughts down on paper reminding the caregiver in your life that he or she is appreciated, respected, and valued can go a long way.

Educate yourself about caregiver health.

How much do you know about caregiver health? When was the last time you checked-in with your caregiver about their well-being? Caregiving is a draining profession, and caregivers can get easily overwhelmed with the never-ending responsibilities. We encourage you to frequently sit down and talk to your caregiver and allow them to take advantage of respite breaks to ensure his or her needs are being met.

As important as it is to show your caregiver appreciation during the holiday season, it is equally as important for you to remind them of their worth on a regular basis, too. We encourage you to think of even more unique ways to say “thank you” to the caregiver in your life. If you have questions, or need additional ideas, do not wait to contact our office.

What to Consider When Selecting Backup Financial Caregivers for A Special Needs Loved One

When planning for a loved one with special needs, it’s important not just to consider the here-and-now, but also the rest of their lives. Although it can be hard to think about, this includes, planning for a time when his or her parents or guardians are no longer alive.

It’s a scary thought, but not one without options. Chief among them, are Special Needs Trusts, a critical part of estate planning.

These trusts are legal arrangements designed to financially support special needs individuals without compromising their ability to qualify for valuable important government benefits. These benefits can include monies and benefits through Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. Further, the trust can outlive a parent or guardian and hold and manage property for special needs beneficiaries. This trust can provide for them but will not give them direct control over their assets if they lack the legal capacity to handle their own affairs.

Special Needs Trusts can be established at any time but will require a trustee to make decisions on the special needs person’s behalf. Often, a parent or guardian who knows the disabled individual best will first serve in this capacity.  Bear in mind, if the trust grows, it may become more complicated to manage. Furthermore, if parents or guardians can no longer serve as the trustee, or if they become ill or pass away, selecting the right back-up could be the single most impactful decision affecting the special needs person’s future.

Here are several questions to consider when choosing a back-up financial caregiver:

  • Does he or she understand the special need beneficiary’s situation and needs?
  • Can he or she maintain communication between the special need person, caregivers, and service providers?
  • Is he or she able to hire and regularly monitor agents and service providers?
  • Will he or she be able to pay bills, help secure housing, and medical care?

Other items that may require technical expertise, and involve a conversation with your estate planning and elder law attorney, include:

  • Becoming knowledgeable about the language and intent of the trust.
  • Establishing accounts for management of trust assets.
  • Collecting income and prudently managing  investment assets.
  • Receiving and conducting periodic inventories of trust assets.
  • Preparing and filing annual federal and state income tax returns.

This can be a lot to consider. Keep in mind a trustee does not have to be a family member or friend. A trustee can also be an independent professional, or even an institution like a bank or a trust company.  Choose wisely, whoever you select will have almost complete discretion about how to make payments and distributions from the trust on behalf of the disabled beneficiary. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers, please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions.

VA Mission Act not Living up to Expectations

It is no secret that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of wounded veterans and their caregivers. On June 6, 2018, President Donald Trump sought to remedy this by signing the VA Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act, or VA Mission Act. The Act was primarily designed to provide options and aid to expand private health care options through the VA. The Act also will eliminate, in stages, the previous limitation for caregivers of veterans who were wounded before 9/11 to receive government training and stipends.

Before the Act was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, Representative Phil Roe, (R-TN) chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, warned Congress to ensure that the VA has the resources to implement such an expansion. In a statement published by the American Legion, Roe said, “There has been miscommunication, confusion, and frustration from veterans, caregivers, and VA employees alike concerning practically every aspect of this program — from eligibility determinations to clinical appeals to revocations and more,” he continued, saying, “no veteran and no caregiver from any generation is well-served by having access in name only to a program that has the deficits this one does and is as ill-prepared as this one is to accept a sudden influx of new beneficiaries with complex, widely different caregiving needs from those veterans the program is currently serving.”

Roe’s foresight proved to be true as the VA and Congress have both struggled to provide direction and funding to move the program forward. The Senate estimates the cost of the Act will be around $55 billion over the next five years. However, Congress and the White House are locked in disputes over how to fund the program. As for the caregiver support portion of the Act, the cost is expected to be about $3 billion per year and increase from 21,000 veterans served to over 150,000 veterans and their families.

When the Act was signed, $5.2 billion in funding was provided to keep the current Veterans Choice program running through May 2019. Where funding will come from beyond that point continues to be unclear. Part of the reason for the funding crisis is that when Congress passed the VA Mission Act, it moved funding from mandatory appropriations to a discretionary program which must fit into overall domestic discretionary caps. However, the discretionary budget cap for 2019 and the projected caps for 2020 and 2021 do not include the increased costs necessary for implementing the Act, thus possibly leaving Congress with the inability to fund the program.

Eligibility for caregivers to receive training and financial assistance continues to plague veterans and their families. Congress still struggles to define exactly which veterans and caregivers are able to receive assistance. Currently, only post-9/11 veterans and those who suffered “severe, service-connected wounds or injuries” before May 1975 are eligible for benefits.

We will continue to post updates as Congress and the White House work out ways to pay for the VA Mission Act to take care of our veterans who have already done so much to take care of the citizens of this country. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office if you have any questions.


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