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How to Know When It’s Time to Hire In-Home Care

By Julie Davis of

Caregiving is one of the most loving and one of the most stressful roles you can take on. You may be motivated by many influences, from a sense of caring to a sense of responsibility. But no matter what has brought you to this role, it’s important to understand that your loved one’s crisis can turn into a health crisis for you if you don’t build a network of help and support. You can’t be there every minute, even if help is needed around the clock. Because most people want to stay in their own home indefinitely, one of the best ways to manage the needs of a love one is with in-home care.

When to Consider In-Home Care

Not being able to manage the activities of daily living signals that your loved one’s needs have increased and more outside care is needed. Difficulty might involve the more complex tasks, like shopping, cooking and managing money, and even more basic ones such as daily hygiene, going the bathroom and being able to get dressed.

Here are the telltale signs you should look for:

  • Confusion or forgetfulness
  • Hoarding
  • Lapses in self-care and housekeeping
  • Mismanaged finances (look for past due notices and unopened bills)
  • Poor sense of day and time

How many activities of daily living your loved one is having trouble with will determine the level of care needed.

How to Broach Hiring a Caregiver

Bringing up the idea of outside help is one of the hardest conversations you’ll have with a loved one—many people, seniors in particular, may view it as a first step toward (unwanted) assisted living. But pointing out that getting help at home can actually prevent a move to a nursing home may allow the idea to be viewed in a positive light.

Suggest starting slowly, with a caregiver coming in just once or twice a week for a few hours at first and point out these advantages to having help at home:

  • Preparing meals and making sure they get needed nutrients
  • Shopping for groceries and health needs
  • Providing reminders about taking medication, getting exercise and eating well
  • Providing transportation to doctor visits and other medical appointments

Home care agencies offer a spectrum of services personalized for the needs of each client. Some assistance requires a home health aide while other tasks can be handled by a caregiver who’s more of a companion. Having an evaluation will help you find the right person to add to your loved one’s care team.

Final Considerations

When choosing in-home care for a loved one, remember that you’re looking to balance the risk level of the person in need with the amount of family involvement you and others can provide. Learn about all the options available to you and have an open, honest conservation with the home agencies you’re considering to determine what’s best for your situation. Finally, although this might be a step that you want to put off, don’t wait for a crisis to begin looking for in-home care—doing it now gives you time that you won’t have in an emergency.

Julie Davis is the chief content officer for, a comprehensive website dedicated to the health and wellness needs of seniors and their caregivers, both near and far. offers hundreds of informative articles and thousands of products that allow people to age well at home, practical tools for all the activities of daily living for those who want to stay independent as well as those with limited mobility. Julie’s mission is to provide the widest possible range of articles on all issues affecting better aging, from advances in medical research to preserving quality of life and enabling aging in place. She has been a health and fitness editor for over 25 years, has written over 50 books and developed more than two dozen magazines and websites.


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