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My 87-year old mother has dementia, and I am her primary caregiver. I stopped working but can no longer leave her alone for a few hours if I have to leave the house. I have antiques, valuables, and good things all around my home and am very afraid of theft and/or loss.

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My relative gets caregivers through two agencies. If a sub is needed, I say "no new caregiver". When we do have to get a new one because people quit or don't want to work weekends, I am there to meet them and let the person know I drop by all the time. My aumt doesn't have dementia and reports everything the caregiver says and does.
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I have had a number of caregivers in my home over the last 6month. Nothing has been stolen. If you hire caregivers from a reputable agency they are bonded and have met at least minimum requirements for the state that you live in. The agency caregivers generally hold a license as an aide from the state. If they do unethical or harmful things then they risk losing their license. If you use private care givers, generally go with word of mouth and references from folks that you know in an area where you live. Then check on them to ensure that they are doing what is necessary. Try different caregivers until you find the right fit. Not everyone is right for you and your loved one.
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One thing to remember, don't let your guard down. You may be mightily impressed by caregiver for a month or so, and think you can relax a bit. We had an agency caregiver for awhile, who thrilled my parents because she was same nationality & proud of it (like my parents are!). It was like a Honeymoon... until several unpleasant situations & occurrences, which I reported to agency, and was assured that was not allowed & wouldn't happen again, but it did. My parents decided to fire the caregiver and that was the end of six months downward spiral. Just wanted to share this--even what seems to be Awesome at the start, might disintegrate, unfortunately.
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When I had to stop caring for Mom and my sisters had to hire an in home caregiver for 8 hours a day, they were concerned, even though we don't have anything of real value. We did want to make sure all financial records and other things were safe so we put them in file cabinets with locks and many things my Mother had like her wedding rings and some fake jewelry were put into another room with a lock. It can be a lot of work but it is better to be safe than sorry. You may want to invest in a closed circuit TV like a nanny cam to make sure that your mother is not being abused or neglected after all they are more important than anything you own.
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I hired sitters (bonded and insured) from a recommended agency to sit with my 96 year old mother. The sitter used my laptop computer without permission to surf the web. I found out when I noticed the keyboard mouse was on, and I never use the keyboard mouse. I went into the history, and there it was. She had used almost all of my internet time for the month. I called her boss and reported it. They said I should put away the computer, although they agreed that I shouldn't have to.
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Why not look into Adult Day Care for your. Depending on your location, some Adult Day Care centers offer programs for people with dementia. It would give you a chance to leave the home and for your mother to also get out of the house and be with other. If the Adult Day Care accepts people with dementia, they also would have activities for them. It could be a good experience for both of you. Check it out.
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I agree with those that suggest you lock up your small valuables and do not leave jewelry, checkbooks, statements and personal information out. This is just common sense. Make sure you have insurance to cover the rest. Monitor credit cards and bank statements (most of these threats come from outside the home already). But do not hold yourself hostage to fears of letting caregivers and helpers into your home to help you. In the end, it is just "stuff" and you do what is reasonable to protect yourself, but you will cause more harm to yourself and your loved one if you burn out trying to do it all by yourself. We have had a "parade" of people caring for my parents, with one primary caregiver and others who covered for him when he was sick or on a well-deserved vacation. All of them came to us through a reputable agency and were licensed and screened. We have to have a certain amount of faith in people we hire because...well, we have no other choice! We do not assume that they are going to steal from us, and in three years, we have been fortunate in putting our faith in them. One important suggestion, be a presence in your elder's life. Get referrals from people you know and trust, or use reputable agencies who will screen caregivers for you. The VNA is a good place to start. We also used Angie's List for home maintenance issues, but I think they have referrals for doctors, lawyers, etc. Get to know personally the people who come in and help you, who clean your home, deliver meals, provide care and companionship to your loved ones, or fix your home maintenance problems. You may be surprised by just how caring, honest and dependable they turn out to be.
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I will suggest you hire the home companion from a licensed, insured and bonded agency. Also buying hiring from licensed agency , you are sure that you are getting caregivers that have undergone thorough background checks and that gives you peace of mind.
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Sorry for the typo in my previous post. I wanted to say ' by hiring from a licensed agency " and not buying.
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I will suggest you hire the home companion from a licensed, insured and bonded agency. Also buying hiring from licensed agency , you are sure that you are getting caregivers that have undergone thorough background checks and that gives you peace of mind.
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The only truly important "valuable" you should be concerned about is your aging Father. If you trust a stranger enough to care for your Father you should be able to trust them enough around your worldly valuables. Talk to the companion and feel them out. Let them know that you are placing a high value on them to watch over your Father and instill trust in them. I believe you get what you give. Don't come across distrustful with the companion. That can only cause resentment. If the companion is taking good care of your Dad I really don't think you have anything to worry about. You are going to have to trust someone to care for him while you are out or be bound to your place forever.

Do an inventory of all of your worldly valuables and store them in a safe place. Then install a remote camera that can be installed for pennies. You will be able to see and hear everything from your cell phone.

If you belong to a church, contact an Elder. See if someone can spend some time with your Father reading the bible to him for a few hours. That can be uplifting to him and reassuring to you.
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Try to find a quiet one, as some of the more talkative ones want to know everything about all of the children, grand-children, etc., and are just plain nosy. The busy-body ones are especially curious when they see pictures in the home, asking questions about the various people, etc.
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As an administrator of a personal assistance service I am saddened by the stories of individuals who have had bad experiences with caregivers. I remember speaking to a potential client for 45 minutes about what we do to reduce the chances of our clients becoming victims of caregivers we put into their private homes. She was very fearful to say the least. However, she was the caregiver for her spouse and she was clearly stressed out. When you HAVE to hire a service or individual to provide care to your loved one do what's necessary to put your mind at ease. If that means installing cameras, or putting valuables away then do it. What's of utmost importance is your comfort level. Get the support that you need as safely as possible. Yes, a reputable agency will perform criminal background checks, drug testing, competency testing, training, etc. to screen potential employees and select the best caregivers they possibly can. Our employees are bonded and insured also. So do your homework, but also get the support that you need to provide your loved one the best care possible.
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Get a background check of Anyone coming into your house. If they work for a agency/company they should have a background check done by the state and FBI. I would not hire someone without references that could be verified also.
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Purchase a locked safe and put the valuables in there. It helps you and your loved one feel better about the "stuff". It won't help with the quality of care, however. Most care givers are good, honest people, trust-worthy and just wanting to do a good job.
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Go through a licensed agency that utilizes employees. Do not use contractors or people off of craigslist. An agency can provide much more support if anything were to go wrong. And, they will pay the workers compensation, unemployment & IRS taxes, liability insurance. Less worry.
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I would go to the Area agency on Aging and get their recommendation for a home agency or your Dr. They make referrals to people for this type of care. Also , I would contact a place for Mom because they are a free agency who helps people with care placement.
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I personally worked in Elder Care through a large well known company. I was hired on the spot and began work the next day--BUT they later did run background checks on me, etc. My one client (30+ hrs per week!) was the one who was the "problem"..she lost everything. I am known to be a great "finder" and I would come in Monday am and the first thing on the to-do list was find A's glasses, purse, wallet, pills, shoes, etc. It became a family joke: f you lost something call MidKid, she can find anything. My client lived in her enormous home with a series of family members and there was never any tension about anything being stolen, but I know that several other ladies in the neighborhood who had assistants did have theft. It certainly would have been easy enough! I kept the receipts of every single purchase we made (My client could not sign her name anymore, so I would do so, with her permission as she stood next to me.) I kept a daily log of my time, what we did, how she felt and acted...per my co's requirement. If your helpers aren't doing that, I suggest they do now. Alto you can install in-home cameras. I suggested this to my client's family as they had people coming and going all day and they DID have a lot of valuable stuff.
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As a companion, my first recommendation would be that you insist that only the same people visit your home each time. If the agency cannot guarantee that, move on to another agency. Most areas have a good number of agencies and they are very competetive with one another, so if they understand that this is a deal breaker you may suddenly find that they are more willing to work with you. In addition, offer a bonus -- if they will send the same person every time, you'll pay a dollar more an hour, etc. It will be worth it to have someone you trust in your home caring for your loved one.

Are there bad apples in companion care? Yes. Both in agencies and in private practice. If you are willing to do the work, you can also go through website care and either place an ad or peruse people looking for work on their site. That is where I work through. Ask for several references, and call the families. Ask pointed questions of the families and pay attention to how they say things. Many people are afraid to talk bad about someone else for fear they'll be sued. If you ask "Did they take good care of your father?" and the reply is "She kept the house so clean, and never missed a day." well, that didn't answer the question. Probe, and if you don't get the answers to your questions that you want, move on.

Insist that the person provide for you, and their cost, a state background check, which should be available at any local sheriff's department for a minimal charge. Here in South Carolina it is called a SLED check, they go back either five or ten years and list all run-ins with the law. There are other websites where for a fee you can get everything from their credit history to high school GPA. I can promise you the agencies, no matter what they promise, do not do that much. They don't have to because hidden in the fine print is a waiver that says they aren't responsible for anything their caregiver does, and you have to arbitrate rather than sue if there's an issue.

Finally, trust your gut. When my great-grandmother had her stroke, we went through a number of family members who all either neglected Mimi or stole from her. Finally a woman from our church approached Mom and offered to come in and care for her during the day. I had already moved into the home and was caring for Mimi at night, with Mom spelling me a couple of nights a week, but I did work during the day so we needed someone. This lady turned out to be a godsend. She cared for Mimi like she was her own, she guarded Mimi from family members who were out to continue to victimize her, she kept the house absolutely spotless, and our doctor told us that her care probably allowed Mimi to have the finest quality of life she could have in her final years. If she had been available when my own Mom got sick, that's who would I would have hired to care for her.

Once you hire someone, have them come in for the first couple of weeks while you are there. Spend time with the person and then let them spend time with your loved one while you are out of the room or in another part of the house. Install baby monitors behind books and such and listen to how they interact. But most of all, GO WITH YOUR GUT. If it doesn't feel right, find someone else. Our gut tells us way more than we want to pay attention to.

Sorry this is long but I've been doing this a long time, on both sides of the coin. I treat every client like I wanted people to treat my Mimi, and I have good references to prove it. Hopefully you'll find someone who will treat your loved one that way. Good luck.
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Even though "movingup" shared her experiences and thoughts does not mean anyone on this site should describe her in negative terms. We are here to support one another, not degrade. I was accused of stealing from several of my patients, but my agency trusted me enough to know I would never steal and considered the state of the client. But, be careful and install cameras if you have valuable items in a house. Millions of people are cared for by other non family members, and I suspect many family members will steal from a loved one just as easily...
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I, too, hired a caregiver from a reputable agency, which was bonded and insured. My mothers diamonds and cash was gone, and the agency offered nothing, except we would need proof of theft since my Mom's dementia had gotten to the "you can have this if you want" stage. I would remove all jewelry, stock, cash, bonds, and even then you run a risk. It is hard enough going through the issues with our parents. Good luck and God Bless!
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The bottom line is this: caregivers from either agencies or private MAY turn out to be The Bad Apple. So, you have a choice: either lock everything up/remove it, or, consider moving to a senior facility where you will have to lock everything up or remove it. When a senior has limited ability to protect valuables or their identity, there is no alternative but to lock things up or put them out of reach of possibly unscupulous caregivers. A relative of mine lost many items in a posh nursing home....some were found in other residents rooms, but others (nice shaver, needlepoint hanging, toothbrush refills) simply disappeared, presumably stolen by staff.
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This is a concern for many families. When you find a consistant, reliable aide(s) you will have less concerns about this. We have had the same aide for the past 5 years plus. The only time there was theft was when we had a fill in person that we did not know well. So we have a room that has a lock and key, for back up stock of items (paper goods , etc) that we dont necessarily want a fill in person to have access to. I have all important mail delivered to my home . I am constantly going thru old papers in her house to screen for private materials. I bring them to my house, shred them if app, etc. It really has been a process that takes years to complete. Jewelry was removed a long time ago. *****The one thing I never imagined happened*****. Our wonderful aide who I trust had a family member, who apparently got hold of my mom's checking account number (that is all he needed). He proceeded to use the account number to pay his bills online. This went on for about 3-4 months before I realized it. It was done in a professional manner to camoflouge the transactions. That was in combo with me being lax about her checking account statements. Fortunately I got back every penny thru the help of wonderful support staff at moms bank. It added up to thousands!!! Bottom line is I now scrutinize every checking statement very closely each month. I also do online banking so I can check it as often as I like. So I dont even have to wait for the end of the month. I am much more AWARE after having had that experience. The
aide was mortified and didnt speak with him for months. I put in writing that I never wanted him on the property. (He came to my mom's house only once) He has since moved far away and has put in life in order. Boy was that a wake up call. So one has to be aware not only of the aide but who might be associated with the aide. This was a very strange set of circumstances. I since have created an aide manual and I indicate that I prefer no house guests for the aides when they are on duty and if there is ever a need I want to be contacted first. I also signed my mom up for Lifelock which is a good thing to have. I only leave my mom a few checks and constantly monitor what they are being used for. I hope this helps. I would definitely lock up the very precious/valuable items for the time being. While it is true that they may not know the value, there is always a chance that they may or just like something. The person that took from my mom took a water filter cartridge. Strange right?
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How many hours a day per week do you need someone with her? I would recommend a respected homecare facility or someone through word of mouth from a reliable close family member/friend. Blessings - Sue
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When I needed help here I went with a smaller local agency instead of big out of town franchise one. The locals depend on thier good name, and I think they try harder to stay on top of things. Ours does lots of training, and if our regular gal can't come they will personally "deliver" the sub.. the owner comes along on the first trip to introduce and help them "fit in", even if its just for a day. they also make home checks while the CG is here, and every email I have sent has been answered promptly. Luckily for me, Mom is still alert and with it... so that does help
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Security cameras!
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Movingup, I happen to agree with your philosophy and was astounded by the few negative responses and especially the name-calling. Totally unnecessary and way out of line. You have a good head on your shoulders.
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In our community, caregivers are recommended by families where they have worked and their loved one recently died. I got a phone call from a neighbor who's husband died and his caregiver was looking for her next client. I snatched her up that night for my mom's caregiver because she was highly recommended BUT I still use caution and lock up my checkbooks and important papers.
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There are bad apples in every profession... and income levels of a person doesn't mean anything, even wealthy people want more. Let's not judge every profession for the likes of a few. Remember, buyer beware.
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Even with hiring a thoroughly checked out person, they could still steal if the opportunity arises. I agree that we need to keep everything valuable out of sight..cash, check books, mail, etc. I have a woman coming to help out around the house for the past 3 years or so...but I still don't trust her 100% Probably wouldn't trust anyone 100% She has gotten "over familiar" and will just walk into the house with knocking, etc. She has scared us on more than one occasion..I have told her she needs to let us know she's here by knocking, ringing door bell, etc. but she doesn't seem to get the hint. Unfortunately, she's not very swift. But she is a good worker...I just keep my radar on....when she's around and leave out anything to tempt her! I also try and be at the house when she's here but I'm not always here. This summer she mainly worked outdoors.
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