Working with professional caregivers

Asking for help when you need it ensures you can continue to provide the best care for your loved one

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be a demanding job. At first, you may be able to meet your loved one’s needs yourself. Over time though, you may need assistance as the disease progresses and your loved one needs more help with daily activities. Understandably, this can become too much for one person to handle. It’s important for you to seek help and support to prevent caregiver burnout. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or a lack of caring. It shows you know your limits and when to seek support, and it can help ensure you can continue to give your loved one the best possible care.

Professional caregivers are an excellent source of support who can assist you with the daily tasks involved in caregiving. Assessing your care needs and screening providers are important steps in selecting a professional caregiver service.

Older Alzheimer's patient and caregiver walking

Assess your care needs1

The first step in choosing the best care provider for your loved one is determining the care needs of the person with Alzheimer’s disease. This will depend on a number of factors, particularly the stage of the disease. Wherever possible, involve the person with Alzheimer’s in his or her care decisions.

Some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • What type of supervision is necessary?
  • Does the person need 24-hour supervision or care?
  • Does the health of the person with Alzheimer’s disease require specialized care?
  • Does the person require help with taking medications?
  • Does the person need help toileting, bathing, dressing, or grooming?
  • Can you physically manage providing the care needed?
  • Is the person engaged in meaningful activities during the day?
  • Would spending time with other people with Alzheimer’s disease be beneficial?
  • Would the person be more comfortable with a male or female caregiver?
  • How much will the service cost?

Screening providers1

Once you have a clear idea of the type of care needed, you can contact providers and narrow your options. Screening those providers is an important step. You will want to find a care provider whom you trust and who interacts well with the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Have a list of questions ready when interviewing potential providers.

Here are some basic questions to get you started:

  • Does the care provider offer the specific services the person with Alzheimer’s disease needs?
  • How are care plans created and reviewed?
  • Is the staff trained in Alzheimer’s care, or do they have experience in working with someone with Alzheimer’s disease? Are their credentials verified?
  • Does the agency, service provider, or care facility conduct background checks on all staff?
  • What is the procedure if the care provider is sick, on vacation, or quits?

Finally, ensure that you ask the care provider for at least three references and contact these references.