Caregivers are an essential part of long-term care for older adults. We are all going to age and most will need some sort of care. However, there are precautions that should be taken.
The most well-known form of caregiver is a family member or close friend who takes on the care of a loved one when they are no longer able to complete important tasks on their own. However, caregivers could also be someone whom the older adult may not know. They may be employed through an agency and come into the home, or work in the facility where the elder person may live. These are professionals who provide services that can range from companionship to full medical care.
As someone ages, it is crucial to have people around who can support them. More than ever before, seniors are wanting to stay in their homes and are able to, if they utilize caregivers. Because of this development, and because many seniors are living in a long-term care facility that employs caregivers rather than move to a nursing facility, there has been a rise in the demand for caregivers.
Currently, there is a nationwide shortage of caregivers in all types of settings, and it is impacting communities at all levels. Shortages of familial caregivers, volunteer caregivers, and professional caregivers have caused many older adults to do without these services for long periods of time. The waiting period for caregiving services has risen, even if someone has been approved to start receiving care. Once services are started, there may also be times when the extent of services an elder may need exceeds the number of caregivers or hours of care they are granted.
Facilities and agencies are also experiencing shortages. Not only are people not able to find caregivers to come directly to the home, but people are also not able to find caregivers within facility settings.
For this reason, it is wise to start sooner rather than later to form a relationship with an agency and/or caregiver(s). It is wonderful when an agency or caregiver is first hired, and it goes smoothly for all parties. However, it may take trying several caregivers or agencies before you find one that is a good fit for the care receiver. Word of mouth can be an effective way to contact someone interested in being a caregiver. Let the people in your social circles know you have a need and see if anyone answers the call.
When the caregiver is found, then you must be familiar with what the law requires. Each state has regulations on health care. The Texas Professional Association of Caregivers recommends an 8-hour certification course. This ensures that the person who is taking care of your loved one is properly trained and thus equipped to provide care. It is also recommended that a background check be performed, an agreement in writing be entered and insurance provided.
Caregivers are one of the most important and impactful resources for an elder to maintain quality of life. If you or someone you know needs services, or may need them in the near future, start the process now. As part of that process, you should consult with an attorney familiar with Elder Law to assist you with questions in this area.
Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. www.moakandmoak.com