September 1, 2020

Companion care is one of the best ways to help the elderly enjoy the comfort, safety, and independence that come with aging in place — but we know how hard it can be to get started! 

As you look into all of the home care options near you, you’re bound to have questions. After all, making the decision to hire a companion or caregiver for your senior loved one is a big step forward. It’s important to hire someone that you can depend on to take care of some of the most important people in your life. A care provider must be trustworthy, reliable, easy to get along with, and skilled at what they do. 

At the same time, we know how important it is to find someone that you and your senior loved one just “click” with. After all, this person will be spending a lot of time with the senior, and communicating with family caregivers on a regular basis. It’s important that you can all get along and form a positive, beneficial working relationship. 

How will you know if you’ve found the caregiver who will be the right fit?

When you hire a professional companion, you’re welcoming someone new into your family’s caregiving network, possibly for the first time. You’re opening your door to a new face, who will be spending a lot of one-on-one time with your loved one. Meanwhile, you’re putting a great deal of trust in them to always do the right thing, especially when you can’t be there in person. 

This is a lot to go through. We know that making the transition from family caregiving to professional home care can be daunting, and it’s natural to be a bit nervous about taking this big leap. Navigating this process is a lot easier when you’ve found someone who your loved one gets along with; who has a communication style that complements your own; and who has experience, knowledge, and hands-on training you can rely on. In short? Someone who will be the right fit. 

Of course, finding the right person is a bit like trying on the glass slipper from Cinderella. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and everyone will ultimately need different things from their caregiving professionals. Looking for some guideposts as you start your search for the right fit? In our experience, here are three big ways to tell if a new caregiver or companion will be a good fit:

1.) They’re a personality match

One of the biggest benefits of companion care is that it allows seniors to get the quality social support they need to live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives. Being social can come with enormous wellness and lifestyle benefits for people of all ages, and it’s important to find a professional that your loved one can get along with. 

In our experience, the best caregivers know when to sit and be still — while also knowing what it takes to help shy or nervous seniors to come out of their shell. It’s important to find someone who doesn’t see spending time with the elderly as a chore or obligation, but as a passion. The best caregivers are excited and enthusiastic about what they do, and find true joy in being of service to others. 

Whether your loved one can chat for hours or prefers to stay quiet, it’s important to connect with a caregiver who knows how to keep a conversation going and make sure that the senior always feels seen and heard. Excellent caregivers are kind, patient, flexible, and empathetic. 

It’s also a plus when the caregiver and the senior are able to bond over shared interests or hobbies. Being able to chat over a favorite board game, enjoy a night listening to opera, or joke together about local sports can make it a lot easier for seniors and caregivers to break the ice and forge a meaningful, enriching connection — making the transition to long-term care a whole lot easier and more comfortable.

2.) You can communicate easily and effectively

When it comes to finding the right caregiver for your situation, communication is incredibly important to keep in mind. Working with a professional caregiver takes a lot of coordination. In addition to talking about scheduling, handling payments and billing, and staying in touch about the senior’s well-being, caregivers are often going to be the “first line of defense” in an emergency situation.

As a result, it’s important to find a companion or caregiver who is reliable, dependable, and available when you need them. Do they have a communication style that complements your own? Are they easy to get in touch with when you need them? Are they backed by an administrative or operations staff, who can keep the conversation going even if the caregiver themselves is unavailable? Do you trust them to always tell the truth, and keep you informed? Are they able to respect your wishes and follow the communication guidelines that you set down — such as checking in on a regular basis, or reaching out to you through your preferred channel (email, text, phone, etc.)? 

3.) They provide the services the senior needs

Does the care professional have the right skillset? Remember, no two older adults are going to require the exact same style of care. It’s important to find someone with the experience, know-how, and training to meet your loved one’s needs. 

For example, if your loved one needs help getting around, it’s important to find someone who knows how to safely and properly assist with routine activities of daily living (ADLs). If your loved one needs a ride to appointments or social events, you’ll need a caregiver who can provide safe and reliable driving services. Meanwhile, it’s worth asking about all of the other little things the caregiver may help with on a day-to-day basis — such as offering medicine reminders, maintaining the senior’s calendar, and providing help with laundry and other basic housekeeping duties. 

If your loved one has a chronic medical condition, has the companion ever worked with someone with similar health needs? Can they adapt their style of communication to suit your loved one’s needs and preferences? Are they able to discreetly and safely assist with grooming, toileting, and bathing, if your loved one needs help?

Starting the Search for Senior Care In Your Area

Starting the search for senior care can feel overwhelming — particularly as you look for a caregiver who will be the right fit. As you begin, research your area’s long-term care options online, looking for testimonials, reviews, and resources from local care providers. You might also work with a local synagogue, church, or senior center, which might have recommendations or offer important connections. Talk with your friends and family, and see if they have any personal suggestions to offer. 

As you sit down with prospective caregivers, don’t be afraid to ask the questions that matter to you. Get a sense of the caregiver’s background, qualifications, and experience. In the early days, you may wish to be there in person to help facilitate things, including helping the senior and caregiver get to know each other, while also helping the new caregiver to learn “the lay of the land,” so to speak. 

For more ways to make this giant step forward feel a whole lot more manageable, we encourage you to check out some of the resources we have to offer to families just getting started with home care: 

Ready to Connect? We’re Here for You

If you have a senior loved one who you believe could benefit from the assistance of an experienced, compassionate caregiver, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals at Companions for Seniors.

Our caregivers are trained and bonded, and are available to help seniors in the greater Chicago area, including the city and suburbs.

Whatever your needs, our thoughtful and accommodating staff can work with your family to develop a personalized care plan for your senior loved one. We believe in helping seniors to maintain a higher quality of life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Our mission is to help the older adult in your life to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, by connecting them with their community and nurturing meaningful relationships.

As a company, we believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care that’s the right price and right fit for every household. If you feel like Companions for Seniors might be the right fit for your family, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us online, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 today.