Warning Signs of a Poor Homecare Aide

If you are an adult child with an elderly parent that is receiving in-home care from a hired aide, you need to closely monitor what is going on at your mother or father’s home. Even if you undertook appropriate due diligence prior to engaging the services of a homecare aide to assist your parent with activities of day to day living, even a thorough background examination is not foolproof. Therefore, you need to be aware of some of the important warning signs associated with a poor homecare aide. These signs include:

  • Unanswered phone calls
  • Television on during shift
  • Late arrival, early departure, last minute cancellation
  • Improper disposal of healthcare items
  • Decline in home cleanliness
  • Evidence of illegal drugs
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Presence of others in parent’s residence
  • Frequent complaints by caregiver
  • Troubling change in parent’s behavior
  • Reports from neighbors
  • Any indication of neglect or abuse

Unanswered Phone Calls

An early warning sign that there might be a problem with a homecare aide is unanswered phone calls from that provider. You do need to have contact on a regular basis with the homecare aide. This is the way in which you can best monitor the state of your parent’s overall health and wellbeing. If you find that you make phone calls in a reasonable manner and cannot get a response to those attempts to communicate, this is indicative that a problem might be developing with the current caretaker.

Television on During Shift

An always-on television might be indicative of a caretaker not fully dedicated to the task at hand. Misuse of the television can occur in one of two (or both) ways. First, a caretaker may spend time on the clock watching television. Second, a caretaker might sit your parent in front of the television for an undue amount of time, using the tube as something of an adult babysitter. Bear in mind, however, that your parent might be very insistent that the television be on a good deal of the time a caretaker is present. If that is the case, a caretaker should have reported this behavior to you and sought out some guidance from you. 

Late Arrival, Early Departure, Last Minute Cancellation

One of the most obvious set of issues that can be warning signs is the manner in which a caretaker arrives and departs work. If you have a caretaker who is frequently late in arriving, early in departing, or cancelling at the last minute – there is a problem. Your parent’s life schedule as well as your own (and likely others) is built around the presence of a caretaker at your parent’s home when scheduled. 

Improper Disposal of Healthcare Items

Generally speaking, a homecare aide isn’t involved in healthcare issues. There can be a few exceptions. For example, if you parent has Type 2 diabetes, your mother or father may need to do finger pricks to determine glucose levels. Technically speaking, the medical equipment (contaminated lancets and test strips) should be disposed of in a manner that segregates these items as medical waste. If healthcare items are not properly disposed of, this can be indicative of an issue with a homecare aide.

Decline in Home Cleanliness

In a good many cases, a homecare aide is retained to provide some basic housekeeping assistance. If you begin to notice that the cleanliness of your parent’s home is declining, this might be indicative an issue or problem with the current homecare aide.

Evidence of Illegal Drugs

While it might not seem possible, the reality is that there are instances in which a homecare aide uses illegal mind-altering substances. Unfortunately, there are occasions in which a homecare aide uses illicit drugs while on duty or in a manner that renders them impaired when on duty. If you detect evidence of drug use, you need to take action immediately. 

As an aside, you also need to know that there are instances in which homecare aides misappropriate certain medications from their clients. You also need to be on guard for this type of possibility as well.

Consumption of Alcohol

On a related note, if you determine that your parent’s homecare aide is consuming alcohol while on duty or is arriving for a shift intoxicated, action also needs to be taken immediately. Your parent really is at immediate risk, and particularly if the aide provides transportation for your parent.

Presence of Others in Parent’s Residence

While it is completely appropriate for your parent to have guests in his or her home, the same cannot be said about a homecare aide. If you learn that a caretaker is allowing his or her friends into your parent’s home while on duty, this is yet another significant problem that requires prompt rectification.

Frequent Complaints by Caregiver

Beware of a homecare aide that is frequently lodging complaints with you. Of course, there can be bona fide issues which a solid caretaker brings to the attention of an adult child of an aging parent. However, if you find a caretaker complaining constantly or about matters that seem spurious or even untrue, these complaints should serve as a red flag to you. 

Troubling Change in Parent’s Behavior

If you do not detect any specific negative issues associated with a caretaker, your parent may be witnessing issues. If you notice what fairly can be described as troubling or unusual changes in your parent’s behavior, talk to your mother or father about what is going on. If you have established an open and regular channel of communication with your parent, you should be able to discern that there may be an issue with a homecare aide.

Reports From Neighbors

From time to time neighbors observe problematic conduct by a homecare aide. For example, if neighbors visit your parent’s home while an aide is on duty, that individual might observe something or another that doesn’t seem correct or proper. When a neighbor makes some type of report to you about something that seems amiss, your default position should be to take your parent’s neighbor seriously and follow up on what has been conveyed to you. 

Any Indication of Neglect or Abuse

Immediate action must be taken to protect your parent from a caretaker when there is an indication of elder abuse or neglect. According to the National Institute on Aging, some of the most commonplace signs of elder abuse or neglect are:

  • Injuries such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones
  • Malnourishment or weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Symptoms of anxiety, depression, or confusion
  • Unexplained transactions or loss of money
  • Withdrawal from family members or friends
  • Large sums of money missing from bank statements
  • The senior cannot access their financial records
  • The elder provides gifts or monetary reimbursement in exchange for companionship
  • Strange or unexplainable transactions
  • An unexplained sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Bruises on the thighs or genitals
  • Bleeding, pain, or irritation of the genitals
  • Inappropriate relationships between a caregiver and elder

An in-home caregiver can also give out warning signs directly that abuse or neglect may be occurring. Examples of these warning signs coming from a caregiver personally include:

  • Being indifferent, angry, demeaning, or aggressive toward the elderly person
  • Failing to show affection toward the senior (if they are related)
  • Giving conflicting explanations of physical injuries
  • Having a history of mental illness, substance abuse, family violence, or criminal behavior
  • Keeping the elderly person from talking to visitors alone
  • Speaking about the elder as if they were a burden
  • Using flirtatious or inappropriate language around the elder

Consider Assisted Living as an Alternative 

If your parent has had issues with an in-home caregiver, contemplate assisted living as an alternative. Through assisted living, your parent will be able to obtain the day to day assistance needed in a wholesome living environment.