Identifying Eldercare Options

The final task in the eldercare planning process involves locating and evaluating appropriate local care resources, and then either enrolling the elder in the chosen care facility or contracting with an appropriate home care worker. The following steps and suggestions can help to make this process more manageable.

List Important Attributes.

As a first step, elders and their families should make a list of the attributes that are most important to them with regard to the type of eldercare environment they want and need. This list might include the types of assistance the elder requires, as well as the amount of assistance, the relative importance of different aspects of care facilities (such as newness, appearance, activities, transportation, availability of care, social and recreational activities, etc.). For each aspect of care that must be covered, it will be helpful to note whether a skilled healthcare worker is required to administer that care, or if instead the care could be provided by an unskilled family member or hired aide. Also important to note are preferences (if any exist) regarding care facility characteristics, such as visiting hours, security services, overall cost of care and whether assistance is provided in helping to file and process third party care claims. If there is an absolute amount of money that the family can spend on care, it should be noted so that minimal energy is invested into investigating facilities that cost more than that amount. Care facilities that charge more for their services than the elder or family can afford unfortunately cannot be seriously considered, regardless of what they have to offer.

For elders or families who will be hiring an in-home worker, the items on this list should reflect desired attributes they hope to find in a care worker. For example, such a list might include:

  • Duties that the elder and family hope the care worker will provide, such as basic care, housekeeping, medication administration, meal preparation, and similar duties.
  • Language or cultural preferences
  • Salary and any benefits the family can offer.

A sample checklist of important variables and attributes that can be used to get the list generation process going is included in this document as Appendix A.

Create a Short List of Potentially Acceptable Facilities.

Once the elder and family have identified important caregiver attributes, they are then able to search for facilities or in-home providers who offer or approximate those attributes. Families seeking a care facility will do well to solicit references and referrals from other elders, local doctors and social workers, the religious community, neighbors, associations, and friends. The need for elder care is universal, and many people within the family's social network will have useful information and ideas to contribute. Family members' Employee Assistance Programs (offered through their workplace) can very likely assist in the process of locating and evaluating care options. If need be, family members can search for facilities, agencies and self-employed helpers online through websites like Google or Craigslist, or look in the local telephone book for eldercare listings. Local and state government agencies may also be of assistance in locating appropriate care. There may be fees for some of these services, but for the busy family, using these options may save time and aggravation.