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When taking care of aging parents, you may want to hire a caregiver. What should you look for in an applicant? What questions would be helpful to ask? This information will help when navigating the process.

Questions to Ask the Caregiver Applicant

  • Note how the person interacts with your parent.
  • Note whether the person is respectful, courteous and well groomed; easy to get along with; well-versed in the issues of aging and caring for an aged person?
  • What qualifications does this person have? Many workers will not need qualifications o certification, but if, say, you are hiring a nurse, ask about licensing or call the state’s board of nurses to check.
  • What prior experience does this person have? Does he or she have experience working with the particular problems that affect your parent?
  • Is he or she physically capable of meeting your parent’s need – can he or she support your parent so he can move from a bed to a chair, for example?
  • Exactly what services will this person perform, and can he or she perform them?
  • Depending on the nature of the work and the employee, you might find out if the worker is bonded (has a bond that will cover any lawsuit that might arise).
  • You might also do a background check to find out about any criminal record, driving violations, and licenses, and to verify past employment. Ask to see identification so you know that you have the right name. You can then ask the local police department, look through the local Yellow Pages (under “investigators” or “detectives”), or go online to one of the many companies that do such checks (usually for under $25). Do a search under “background check” or “crime check.”
  • Once you select an employee, get a home phone number and cell phone number where he or she can be reached, as well as a home address. Draft a contract, to be signed by both of you, stating the starting date of the job, the days and hours of employment, the job requirements, the pay plus any bonuses or benefits involved, vacation days and time off, and the types of things that would lead to termination.

It all seems very serious and formal until you’ve had an employee steal from you, get drunk on the job, damage your home, neglect his work, or worse, abuse your parent. If your parent is not terribly alert or able to keep an eye on things herself, all of this is only that much more important.

For more questions to ask a potential caregiver, visit: Getting Help in Helping Our Parents

Virginia Morris, How to Care for Aging Parents (New York: Workman Publishing, 1996, 2004), pp. 160-161.


Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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