How To Find A Live-In Caregiver For Elderly Parents

Scott Grant ATP CRTS
by: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Live-in Caregivers help seniors manage their daily lives while living on-site with them in their home. So, when hiring one, you should vet them properly and make sure your senior loved one is safe. Here is how to find a live-in caregiver for seniors and the elderly

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Staying independent as we age is easier said than done.

However, most people don’t like the idea of living in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

If your elderly parents are currently at a point in their lives where they need assistance in their everyday activities, you can either hire a live-in caregiver or 24-hour care.

How Do Live-In Caregivers Differ From 24-Hour Care?

It is actually quite easy to confuse live-in caregivers with 24-hour care. While they both offer the same general types of care, there are some differences between them.

Live-in caregivers are available 24 hours, but the caregiver sleeps at night since he/she is lives onsite. He/she also gets personal breaks and lunch breaks. For 24-hour care, shifts are typically 8 to 12 hours long and the caregiver never sleeps during his/her shift. Simply put, assistance and supervision are available 24 hours a day.

For 24-hour care, there’s usually a minimum of 2 regular caregivers responsible for providing care for the elderly person. With live-in caregivers, however, it is usually just 1 caregiver. Still, you might need to hire a second caregiver or family and friends may be required to step in to provide care if the elderly person cannot be left unattended.

Why Choose a Live-In Caregiver Rather Than 24-Hour Care?

Care recipients that choose live-in caregivers benefit from the presence of somebody with them during the day as well as at night. Having opted to remain in the comfort and sanctity of their homes, such recipients of care prefer live-in caregivers for a variety of reasons, which include:

  • Lower Cost: You can save a considerable amount of money if you hire a live-in caregiver rather than 24-hour care provided by 2- or 3-shift personnel.
  • Better Communication: The family members of the elderly person receiving the care enjoy talking to just one caregiver when calling for updates on their loved one’s health.
  • Easy Transitioning: Live-in caregivers are the ideal option for elderly persons recovering from illness or injury because they never have to deal with nervous periods when shift changes are underway.
  • Greater Reliability: Live-in caregivers are able to develop greater bonds between themselves and the elderly persons they are caring for.

Based on these reasons, it is clearly evident that a live-in caregiver is the better option for your elderly parents than assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

live in caregiver checking on a senior woman's health

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Live-In Caregiver?

A live-in caregiver typically provides the same care regimen as 24-care providers, which includes:

  • Chores such as cleaning, running errands, cooking, transportation to appointments, banking, and laundry
  • Essential daily living needs i.e. assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, feeding, functional mobility, and using the toilet, etc.
  • Companionship i.e. providing social interaction thereby reducing depression caused by loneliness and isolation
  • Reducing the risk of injury and physical strain that’s associated with doing chores, falling down, etc.
  • Communicating with family members as well as the rest of the medical team
  • Providing peace of mind to the senior as well as his/her family members
  • Monitoring and assistance with medical and health conditions such as medication reminders

Where Can You Find a Live-In Caregiver?

If you are looking to hire a live-in caregiver for your elderly loved one, here are some of the options available to you:

Private Hire

You can find a live-in caregiver in the classified sections of magazines and newspapers, through personal referrals, on referral websites, or in lists provided by public senior agencies. You can also independently find a caregiver through personal ads, screening, and interviewing.

A privately hired live-in caregiver can realistically work a live-in schedule for anywhere between $100 and $125 a day. However, it is important to note that this is only possible if the family pays for his/her rent, food and beverages, electricity, etc.

People often assume that hiring privately is the cheapest way to find a live-in caregiver. However, you should consider the costs of taxes, payroll, auto insurance, worker’s compensation. You probably won’t be able to vet them as well as an agency. So, this might not be the easiest, safest, or even cheapest option.

The worst thing about taking this route is that you would have to repeat this exercise whenever one caregiver leaves for another job. It would then be up to you to fill in or find another caregiver whenever the primary caregiver is sick or needs time off.

Home Care Agencies

A home care agency basically handles all responsibilities. It continually hires new caregivers so that by the time you need one, they can provide you with a live-in caregiver that’s the right fit with the needs of your loved one.

A home care agency thoroughly vets its caregivers. This includes undertaking reference and criminal background checks. If the primary caregiver needs time off, the home care agency fills-in with another caregiver.

A home care agency also supervises caregivers on assignment on a regular basis and can even pay the caregiver’s benefits, taxes, wages, and then bill you with all expenses paid. The cost associated with getting a live-in caregiver through a home care agency ranges anywhere from $350 to $450 a day.

Referral Agencies

Referral agencies refer caregivers and allow clients to hire them directly as employees. These agencies essentially provide you with a list of qualified persons for you to interview. They pre-screen the candidates, train them, and also make sure they are legally authorized to work in the country.

Through referrals and guidance, referral agencies can provide clients with necessities such as payroll services, auto insurance, worker’s compensation, and even information about the local regulations. Clients choose their preferred caregiver but they are also provided the resources they need for tax and legal compliance.

Referral agencies are the perfect compromise between being completely on your own and paying the high cost associated with a home care agency. If you hire a live-in caregiver through a referral agency, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $350 a day, but this will vary from state to state.

senior walking with her caregiver from the back view

How to Vet a Live-In Caregiver

You need to take some precautionary measures to protect your loved one (and their property) regardless of how you hire the live-in caregiver.

Here are the things you need to look for before you hire a live-in caregiver:

Criminal Background Check

If you are dealing with a referral or home care agency, it is important to find out whether the prospective caregiver has been “Live Scanned.”

A Live Scan is a report that requires fingerprinting and reports all arrests, dispositions and court cases, sentences and probations, and any other post-conviction orders. A Live Scan also shows civil matter such as civil contempt findings, restraining orders, and other law-enforcement related issues.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

This covers the live-in caregiver should they get injured on the job. In some states, Homeowner’s Insurance policies automatically include Workers Compensation. But be sure to check the fine print. It might state that it covers workers who are in the home less than 10 hours every week.

Liability Insurance

It protects your loved one in the event that something valuable in the home of your loved one is damaged or in case of negligence. If your loved one is injured due to the neglect of a caregiver, liability insurance will compensate.

Automobile Insurance

If the live-in caregiver owns a car, you need to ensure that it is insured. It is usually a red flag when the caregiver drives to work but is unable to produce evidence of having auto insurance coverage.

Non-Owned Auto Insurance

Call your insurance agent and add the live-in caregiver to the automobile insurance policy before they drive your loved one around.

Valid Driver’s License

The live-in caregiver you hire should have a valid driver’s license. Remember to check for moving violations, DUIs, and/or suspensions.

Fidelity Bond

It typically covers fraud, financial mismanagement, theft, and embezzlement. Depending on the circumstances and the amount, the bonding company may provide compensation prior to adjudication of the claim.

The Bottom Line

During our senior years, we need to consider hiring a dedicated caregiver if we start developing serious problems with memory, mobility, or overall health. A senior citizen such as an elderly parent currently living alone at home may need to think about dedicated caregiving assistance. This can often be an option to moving and downsizing their current home.

A Live-in caregiver will help with the senior’s everyday needs. The help make sure that the senior’s home is clean and tidy. They prepare meals and even clean up afterwards. Also, they do the laundry and help with running errands including getting to medical appointments.

The information provided here should get you started in your search for the right live-in caregiver for your needs. If you hire a live-in caregiver for your elderly parent, he/she will be eternally grateful and you will have the peace of mind knowing that your loved one is being properly taken care of.

Do you have any experience with live-in caregivers to share? Advice and questions are always welcome in the comments below!

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