Your parents likely cared for you until you could care for yourself. That’s only one of the many reasons to find them the quality care they need in their senior years.

The level of care they need depends on numerous factors, including age, health, independence, financial status, and more.

An in-home caregiver may be the best option if your parent is healthy enough to live at home, but could use a helping hand around the house. In-home care is often much less expensive than full-time care provided at assisted living or nursing facilities.

In-home care ranges from helping with household tasks to providing health services. Across the United States, these costs range from $8 to $40 an hour. The median annual cost is between $44,616 to $45,760, according to Genworth’s 2015 cost of care survey.

The majority of long-term care, whether at home or in a facility, is paid out of pocket.

Home care and home healthcare aren’t the same and aren’t all covered by the same plans. Home care involves simple help with day-to-day activities like bathing, laundry, and other chores.

Home healthcare, on the other hand, is medical in nature. It’s often designed to help someone recover from illness or injury. It can address physical, mental, and emotional health through a variety of services, ranging from chores and housecleaning to skilled nursing. This is also called skilled home healthcare. This kind of care can include wound care after surgery, injections, monitoring unstable health, or even educating patients and other caregivers.

If your elderly parent needs home healthcare, it often begins with their doctor. Their doctor will order it, which clears up many headaches when dealing with insurance companies or Medicaid or Medicare.

For eligible adults who are over the age of 65, Medicare has a home health search for agencies and services in your area.

Home healthcare is often preferred over lengthy hospital visits because it’s much less expensive. If you have questions about what insurance or other policies cover it, check with your insurance provider.

There are plenty of online tools available to help you find caregivers in your area to meet your needs.

  • Eldercare
    : A service of the United States Administration on
    Aging, the Eldercare Locator helps you find the services available in your
    area, from adult day programs to opportunities for volunteering.
  • Argentum’s Consumer Resources:
    Argentum, formerly the Assisted Living Federation of America,
    offers a snapshot of expected costs of care in your area. It also gives tips
    on how to budget and save for care.
  • State
    : Each state’s Department of Aging (or similarly named
    agency) outlines available resources for seniors, caregivers, and adults
    with disabilities. These can include legal help, nutrition advice, and
    access to long-term care ombudsman programs.

You may also consider contacting local colleges that have nursing programs to ask if any students are looking for a part-time job caring for your loved one. Nursing students must have criminal history background clearances and may be looking for a job with flexible hours to accommodate their study schedules. If you look into this option, be certain to ask about criminal history background checks.

While a caregiver should have the right skills to meet your parent’s needs, they should also have a personality that meshes well. There’s nothing better than a recommendation. Ask friends or other family members who have hired similar help for their older relatives.

In-home care agencies specialize in pairing caregivers with seniors and others in need. They also perform background checks and ensure caregivers are qualified, honest, and available.

There are many questions to consider when evaluating an agency.

  • How long have they been
    operating and can they provide references?
  • Are they approved by Medicare
    or certified by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
    or another body?
  • How does the agency create
    its care plans, supervise its employees, and ensure patient safety and
  • What’s the cost of care
    and do they offer a sliding scale?

Groups like the Visiting Nurses Association of America can also help direct you towards quality care givers, including those who specialize in in-home hospice care.

Even services like Meals on Wheels can not only deliver prepared food, but also have someone check on your loved one regularly.

Making the decision to find a caregiver for an elderly parent is a process. And finding the right caregiver may seem like a difficult task. But there are plenty of resources out there to help you match your parent with someone that will provide excellent care, and hopefully become a trusted ally.

Keep in mind that you and your loved one don’t have to settle. If the first caregiver you find isn’t the right fit, keep looking. This is someone who may be spending a lot of time with your parent, and you want that time to be as enjoyable as possible.

Reach out to friends and family members that have been through the same thing, and contact state and federal agencies. Remember that you’re not alone in this process.