caregiver holds hands with a loved one

What is a Live-In Caregiver?

Caring for an ailing loved one can, over time, become like a full-time job. When you have an array of other responsibilities, like your own family to take care of, a job that pays the bills, and other professional and personal needs to attend to, it can seem impossible to find your loved one the care they need.

Perhaps your loved one needs attentive medical and professional care, but has voiced that they don’t want to leave their home. This is a valid desire and their wishes should be respected. This puts you in a complicated situation stuck between what they want and what they need. This is when a live-in caregiver could be your best option.

Live-in caregivers can provide for your loved one’s every need while you focus on your life without the added stress of worrying about whether or not your loved one is okay.

With that being said, if your loved one’s home is not suitable for them anymore, or if you’d prefer for them to be with other people their age in a care facility, then you can browse senior living options here.

Maybe you’ve identified that a live-in caregiver is the right fit for your needs, so what comes next? Continue reading to learn more about what is a live-in caregiver, different types of caregivers, their primary responsibilities and challenges, where to find live-in caregivers, and other important information.

What is a live-in caregiver?

Live-in caregivers live with an adult with a disability and tend to their every need, ensuring that your loved one can live a happy and enriching life. A caregiver may do things like play games, play music, converse, cook, clean, and aid with medicating their client. As such, the caregiver’s primary residence is their client’s home and will focus much of their time on supporting your loved one. 

You can also think of live-in caregivers as exerting a comforting presence for your loved one. They are also trained in medical care and emergency response, ensuring that in any high-stress situation, they will know what to do.

With live-in caregivers, they will comfort your loved one while you are away. They can be there for them as a human being and help remind them that their worth is immeasurable.

What are the different types of caregivers?

There are variants of live-in caregivers, including 24-hour caregivers and daytime caregivers, but they serve different purposes, as we will elaborate on below:

Live-in caregivers

A family member may hire a live-in caregiver to live with the family’s loved one and tend to their needs for 4 to 5 days per week. While they are at the loved one’s house, they are constantly supporting their every need, thus working ‘round the clock. 

Families must provide live-in caregivers with a bed and time to sleep. Typically, live-in caregivers are provided between 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Of course, if a loved one needs assistance at night, then a live-in caregiver will wake up and help them with their needs before returning to bed. 

Apart from a bed, families also provide live-in caregivers food and other basic needs for them to live with the family’s loved one. Sometimes, a family may give a caregiver their car if it helps with transporting the family’s loved one to the doctor. 

Lastly, live-in caregivers are given a period of rest where the family can switch them out with a temporary caregiver. Live-in caregivers are typically allowed up to 4 hours of a break either in the daytime or evening. Ultimately, it is up to the family if they think that their loved one will need supervision while the primary live-in caregiver enjoys their break. 

24 Hour Caregivers

Instead of one live-in caregiver residing at a loved one’s residence, another option is having two to three 24-hour caregivers work 8 to 10 hours shifts when caring for the loved one. This kind of care will have a loved one under constant supervision.

Family members may opt for 24-hour caregivers if their loved one has higher care needs. These needs can include their loved ones prone to falls or having short-term memory loss which can endanger them. Having caregivers constantly available without breaks ensures that the person they are caring for is constantly attended to, so they never miss any emergency situations.

While live-in caregivers are granted sleep breaks, 24-hour caregivers are expected to be in full alert mode. They may have sleep breaks depending on the family and if they believe that their loved one is safe unsupervised for a brief moment. 

Overnight/Daytime Caregivers

Daytime caregivers can check on a family member’s loved one during the day while the family member is working or even living far away. These people will have shifts almost like a workday when they come in and bathe and feed their client, potentially while you are at work, or even just to give you a break. These people may have weekends and evenings off, during which time family members care for your loved one, or your loved one cares for him or herself alone if possible.

Family members can also have overnight caregivers. These caregivers can check on a loved one before they sleep, during the night if it is necessary, and after the loved one wakes up. So, if a family member works an evening or double shift, they can have a caregiver still look after their loved one at night without any further concern. 

For overnight caregivers, they can get a sleep break if the loved one if the needs of the clients allow for it. Furthermore, they can provide daytime assistance, and then leave for the day. If a loved one needs attention at night, then the overnight caregiver can be “on-call” and respond right away to any changes in the loved one’s behaviors. 

What are the primary responsibilities of a live-in caregiver?

There are four primary responsibilities that live-in caregivers follow when attending to a loved one:

  • Personal Care
    • This involves the live-in caregiver attending to the loved one’s hygiene. These responsibilities include bathing, dressing, and grooming. 
    • Live-in caregivers can help loved ones clean themselves and start their day with a positive attitude.
  • Assistance with living 
    • Live-in caregivers carry out a plethora of activities for a family’s loved one. Such tasks range from shopping, preparing meals, house cleaning, and scheduling appointments. 
  • Companionship
    • Even when they are not attending to specific needs, live-in caregivers provide great company. Live-in caregivers can encourage loved ones to participate in recreational or social activities or listen to their stories.
  • Health-related services
    • Live-in caretakers are also responsible for services that do not require any professional medical expertise. They can perform diabetes monitoring, tube feeding, and giving out medications. 

What challenges do live-in caregivers face?

In understanding the responsibilities of a live-in caregiver, we also want to shed some light on the hurdles that they constantly face. Their job is incredibly important, but also stressful. If you are considering taking on a caregiving role, there are a few things you should consider. Remember to also keep these realities in mind if you hire a caregiver, as it helps you recognize the value of their work.  

  • Serious responsibility
    • Live-in caregivers are tasked with an important responsibility: taking care of somebody’s loved one and ensuring their safety above all else. Some caregivers experience caregiver burnout. Take a moment to read about the symptoms and signs of caregiver burnout here.
  • Time Management
    • While caring for their clients, live-in caregivers must be aware of how they can balance their personal and work life. Since they are caring for their clients for long hours in the morning or evening, they do not have much time to themselves. 
    • Furthermore, if they are working with a team and they need to reschedule their hours, then live-in caregivers must give as much notice as possible so that they do not reduce the whole team’s efforts in caring for a family’s loved one. 
  • Taking care of a client’s home
    • Since live-in caregivers will spend most of their time in their client’s homes, they must first become comfortable with having limited privacy. It also may become more complicated to compartmentalize your work and life balance when it all exists in one place, and you must constantly be vigilant.

How to find a live-in caregiver for the elderly

There are two major areas in which you can hire a live-in caregiver. They are separated into the following categories:

Hiring Privately

Those that want to hire an independent live-in caregiver can find people in the classified section of newspapers, referral websites, and personal advertisements. After finding them and conducting a personal interview, they can use the live-in caregiver’s services for as little as $100 to $125 per day

Their costs may be cheap, but it comes with a few negatives. First, you may have a difficult time vetting the live-in caregiver’s experience and reputation. Your interview with them may not be reliable, and as such, you should look out for other ways to judge their credibility:

  • Conduct background checks
  • Check if they have a driver’s license and auto insurance
  • Have liability insurance and a fidelity bond in the case of theft.

Home Care/Referral Agencies

If you prefer hiring a live-in caregiver that has gone through a vigorous vetting process at the expense of paying more for them, then you can consult home care or referral agencies. Each agency’s pool of live-in caregivers is qualified individuals who have been carefully trained, screened, and legally authorized to work in America. The price difference will vary from around $3,000-$5,000 a month, then if room and board is provided, that will be subtracted from the salary. In the next section, we will go more in-depth about pricing.

If you choose a live-in caregiver from a home care agency, then you may find it good to know that they are constantly hiring live-in caregivers daily. Thus, if you need to find a substitute caregiver for any reason, then the home care agency you hired from previously should find a temporary individual as soon as possible. 

Referral agencies, provide their clients necessities such as payroll services and insurance for each of their live-in caregivers. Furthermore, clients can select their preferred live-in caregiver and the referral agency will provide them with the necessary resources to maintain tax information for the live-in caregiver.

How much should a live-in caregiver get paid?

Live-in caregivers are paid depending on certain factors, including whether they are privately hired or work for a home care or referral agency. Every month, live-in caregivers earn anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

These earnings depend on where their client is geographically located, the amount of care required for a family’s loved one, and if the caregiver maintains a separate residence. There are also a few ways to offset the cost. This includes if the family gives the live-in caregiver their vehicle.

One more deciding factor in pay is the kind of live-in caregiver you hire. For privately hired live-in caregivers, they are typically paid $100 to $125 daily. This price differs from home care agencies, in which you would pay a live-in caregiver anywhere from $350 to $450. Lastly, live-in caregivers from referral agencies will earn from $250 to $350 daily

Live-in caregiver tax deductions

Tax laws for live-in caregivers are complicated; it’s best to consult a financial expert for any questions about live-in caregiver tax deductions. However, here are a few key takeaways for taxes with live-in caregivers:

  • If live-in caregivers only receive lodging as their sole payment and this equals to weekly wages earned, then there is no tax on the value of the lodge. 
  • For live-in caregivers who make more than $2,000 in cash wages a year (as of 2017), Social Security and Medicare are withheld.
  • If clients pay their live-in caregivers an hourly rate, then the law requires them to report the live-in caregivers’ wages and withhold either Social Security or Medicare taxes.  

For more information about tax deductions, please consult The Arc of Northern Virginia’s guide for caregivers.

What is a live-in caregiver contract form?

Once a family member selects a live-in caregiver, we advise that you form a contract with them. The contract, a live-in care agreement, describes the job and expectations of the live-in caregiver. This contract is especially important since there is a lack of laws and regulations in place for live-in caregivers. 

If live-in caregivers are hired through an agency, they will most likely provide an agreement. But if a family member decides to privately hire a live-in caregiver, then you are responsible for coming up with a contract. This agreement should include elements such as the number of hours that the live-in caregiver will work, their rate of pay, and expectations regarding their duties. 

Conclusion

With research and an awareness about the role that live-in caregivers play, you will be better equipped to find someone who is helpful, knowledgable, and attentive. With a live-in caregiver, your loved one does not need to be uprooted from their environment, and they can feel safe and cared-for in the comfort of their own home. All the while, you can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that someone is giving you a hand with the care that your loved one needs.

If you’d like to find a live-in caregiver from an agency or private entity, check out our directory, where you can find caregivers in your area.

Sources:

  1. Live-in Caregiver Guide for Caregivers, The Arc Northern Virginia, thearcofnova.org

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