caregiver for elderly

Caregiver for Elderly

Types, Finding the Right One and Recommendations

A caregiver for elderly is an excellent option for some seniors who want to stay in their own home but are having difficulty managing their household and personal care.

Elderly often have difficulty managing different parts of their care or household.

This might be due to cognitive or physical impairments - or both.

There are so many different levels of care needed that the type of caregiver for elderly you will need will vary depending on your aging parent's situation.

Some seniors might simply have lost their licence and need a ride when they'd like to go out.

Others might need help with a bath because they are no longer safe getting into and out of the tub alone.

Some elderly might have dementia and not be safe to be at home alone - ever.

Determining the right level of care and the right caregiver for elderly is very important - both for their well-being and your own!

Types of Caregivers

There are a variety of different elderly caregivers, including:

  • Paid and un-paid
  • Family and friends
  • Volunteers
  • Live-in caregiver for elderly
  • Professional specially trained caregivers
  • Formal and informal

Paid Caregivers

A paid caregiver for elderly can be hired through an agency or directly by an individual.

They can be hired to provide care for 1 hour to 24 hours a day. They can provide a variety of services including: household management, personal care, shopping, cooking, cleaning and more.

A paid caregiver for elderly is sometimes called a "professional caregiver". They may or may not have an educational background that will assist with providing care for the elderly.

Some paid caregivers for elderly have no education but are amazingly good with the elderly while some "professional caregivers" have great education but aren't actually that great with the elderly.

If an educational background is important to you or needed in your elderly parent's case, you should check their credentials.

You should check references for a paid caregiver regardless of their background. This can be the best indication of the person's experience, skill, comfort and relationship with the elderly.

Family caregivers can also be professionals and/or paid for the care they provide.

And don't forget, the family are the real experts" on their loved ones. Family should always direct care.

Unpaid Caregivers

An unpaid caregiver for elderly can provide any of the services that a paid caregiver can provide - given they have the training.

However, unpaid caregivers have to be careful not to "burn out". Unpaid caregivers are often family or friends.

It's important to remember that the "one or two" things that an unpaid caregiver does to help can often snowball into spending more and more time being a caregiver for elderly.

Often we give unpaid caregivers, such as a spouse or adult children, the advice to make sure to take some time for themselves. If they dedicate all their time to their loved one, they will surely experience a great deal of "caregiver stress" and may burn out all together.

Family and Friends Caregivers

Family and friends can be a caregiver for elderly - in fact they are usually the first group of caregivers involved in seniors' lives.

The adult children of aging parents (probably you) often start helping with transportation, shopping and other household management tasks.

This usually evolves and includes more personal care tasks.

If not managed properly, this can lead to caregiver stress and burnout.

It's important for family and friends to be aware of their stress and ask for help (paid and unpaid).

There are excellent support groups for family caregivers.


Volunteers can be a great way to provide some support for elderly caregivers.

Often local organizations or churches will have volunteers that will provide services such as housecleaning, transportation assistance, grocery shopping or visiting with elderly people.

Live In Caregivers

A live in caregiver for elderly can be a great option for seniors who need assistance with daily tasks and want to remain in their own home (as opposed to moving to a senior housing community).

The option of a live in caregiver for elderly can be more reasonable than moving to a senior housing community for some seniors.

Live in caregivers can manage the household as well as provide assistance with personal care.

Many seniors want to remain living in their own home and do not wish to move to senior housing. A live in elderly caregiver can enable older adults to accomplish this safely.

I've also seen a live in caregiver work well when the primary caregiver is the spouse and they:

  • can not physically manage their spouse's care
  • are young and active and want to care for their spouse at home but still have an active community life

Or if both of the elderly people in a couple are failing physically and/or cognitively but want to stay in their own home.

Foreign Live In Caregivers

The majority of live in caregivers are foreign.

In Canada, there is a "Foreign Live-In Caregiver for Elderly Program" that makes it easier and quicker for a caregiver to receive a work visa in Canada than for many other professions. Foreign live-in caregivers and nannies are allowed to apply for permanent residence in Canada after working in Canada for two years.

The majority of live in caregivers originate from the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Most have years of previous experience working as nannies and caregivers in English-speaking environments. A great deal of them have formal education in health care and education.

A foreign live-in caregiver can commence employment with you only after her visa and work permit are issued by the Government of Canada. Upon entry, they can work only for you. The name of the employer is actually typed into the work permit.

Costs depend on the conditions of the contract, concluded between you and caregiver. You should pay no less than a minimum salary, permitted by provincial law. The salary should depend on experience and skills, and normally it's in the range of $1000 - $1400 per month.

Professionally Trained Caregivers

Alzheimer's Caregivers

These are caregivers that are specially trained to provide care to individuals with Alzheimer's.

Individuals with Alzheimer's and other dementias can have challenging behaviours that would benefit from working with a specially trained caregiver.

Home Care

An option if the senior does not require full time care.

This would be suitable for a person that needs assistance with daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, getting ready for bed, having a bath, medication management or light meal assistance.

This would not be suitable for someone that requires 24 hour care or non-scheduled personal care (ex. toileting).

Home Care for the Elderly can range from 1-4+ times per day and includes assistance with meal preparation, personal care, bath assistance, shopping and more.

Sometimes this can be provided publicly with a daily charge (depending on income) or it may be something you would consider paying for privately if your health care system does not provide this type of assistance.

For more information, Home Care for the Elderly

Combining Formal and Informal Supports

There are times where a combination of services best suits your elderly parent's needs.

You might decide on formal services that are covered by your health care combined with informal caregiving by family and friends.

Your elderly parent might only need informal help with driving to appointments or maybe they need professional help from a 24 hour live-in caregiver for elderly with specialized training in dementia care.

Example: Doris has severe osteoarthritis. Though her mind is still sharp, she can no longer manage most self care tasks and cannot drive safely.

With her family, she decided on the following services:

  • Formal service: 3 x/day home care with the public health care system for helping her get out of bed, shower, make her mid-day meal, help her get ready and get into bed.
  • Formal service: a paid driving service to take her for lab work every week and to get her groceries.
  • Informal service: family to drive her to medical appointments.
  • Informal service: friends to pick her up for church weekly.

Example: Bill has severe dementia and can no longer stay at home safely alone. He is 6'4" and 200 pounds. His wife, Greta, is 5'0" and tiny.

Greta and her adult children decided on the following services:

  • Formal service: paid live-in caregiver. Works from 8 - 4 daily though helps with unschedule care needs (toileting, helping Bill get into bed) outside of these times if needed from Monday to Friday.
  • Informal service: her adult children rotate weekends they stay with Bill and Greta and will help with his care when needed. There are 4 children living in this area so they can do this. They also have their children help with the housecleaning on weekends.
  • Informal service: friends come in to sit with Bill on Wednesday evenings so Greta can attend her knitting bee.


There are many benefits of an elderly caregiver:

  • Can stay at home - Enables seniors to remain living in their own home when they can no longer manage (housekeeping, grocery shopping, transportation, etc).
  • Do activities they enjoy - Enables seniors to participate in activities that they were no longer doing because housekeeping, etc took up most of their time and energy. It can literally give them their life back.
  • Safety - Seniors can have memory issues (forgetting to turn off the stove) that put them at risk. They can also have medical needs and chronic health issues that make it beneficial to have someone at home with them in case something happens.
  • Reduce caregiver burnout - Bring in more assistance such as paid and non paid caregivers to reduce the risk of caregiver burnout and stress.
  • Respite - Allowing caregivers to have time for themselves.

An elderly caregiver can assist with:

  • Personal Care - Bathing, eating, dressing, toileting
  • Household Care - Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, managing finances
  • Health Care - Medication management, physician's appointments, physical therapy
  • Emotional Care - Companionship, meaningful activities, conversation


The costs associated with an elderly caregiver vary with the type and amount of service needed.

Caregivers can be part time, full time, live in, non live in, volunteer or paid.

It also depends on how the arrangements are made, either through a caregiving business or directly with an individual caregiver.

It also depends on whether services are provided through public health care, what the daily charge is for this or whether 100% of the caregiving must be paid for privately.

Finding the Right Caregiver

Once you have decided on the type of elderly caregiver, you will need to hire the right caregiver.

You want a caregiver that is a good match to your aging parent. Take into consideration skills, education, personality, interest and how well they will get along with the senior.

One of the best ways to find a helper is to get a personal recommendation from a trusted relative or friend.

Churches, synagogues, senior centers, Independent Living Centers and local college career centers - especially those which have nursing or social work programs - are good places to advertise for in-home help. Listings for these places can be found in your local phone book.

You can also hire a caregiver through an agency. This may cost more initially but might save you money in the long run as they screen caregivers for you.

They can also usually provide a replacement if the fit with your elderly parent is not good.

Some communities have attendant registries that can be an excellent resource for finding an in-home elderly caregiver because they usually provide some initial screening of applicants.

There are also nonprofit community agencies (generally listed under Social and Human Services for Individuals and Families in the phone book) that maintain lists of individuals available to perform all kinds of household tasks, from cleaning and laundry to repairs and gardening.

If all of the above sources fail to produce an in-home caregiver for elderly, you may choose to advertise in the "Help Wanted" classified section of a community college, local paper or neighbourhood newsletter. The advertisement, at the minimum, should include hours, a brief description of duties, telephone number and best time to call.


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