Hiring a caregiver for an elderly parent is one of life’s particularly difficult challenges. It’s just like hiring a babysitter for your kids. You’re trusting a relative stranger with the safety of someone very important to you, and no matter how good the references, the process always involves a leap of faith.

It’s a daunting task, but there are a number of places you can look. The best route for you depends on your financial situation, how much time you have to search and your proximity to your loved one.

Here are some ways to find the best caregiver:

Care Manager
Care managers create a care plan tailored to the needs of your loved one and help you find the providers needed to execute that plan. Care managers also check in on your loved one at regular intervals. If you can afford the services of a care manager, which can cost more than $100 an hour, this process can be made much easier. For those who do not live near their loved one or who do not have a lot of time to manage their loved one’s care, a local care manager can provide peace of mind and support during a difficult long-term care situation.

Referral Services
For those on a tighter budget, you can contact an information and referral service to help you find a caregiver. These services offer specialists to help guide you to home-health care agencies that might fit your needs, or nursing homes you may want to consider. Hiring a home aide employed through an agency usually costs around $20 an hour. Home-health care agencies provide a number of valuable services, including assuming the responsibility for tax withholding and benefits, providing malpractice insurance and providing ongoing training. Registered nurses are also available through these agencies, but they typically cost about $40 an hour.

Independent Aides
You can save more money by hiring an aide that is not employed by an agency. These aides can be found through home-health registries or even by putting an ad in the classifieds or online. Aides found through registries are often screened for competency and criminal records. If you find an aide through an ad, you’ll have to perform your own background check.

While cost savings is a realistic concern, it’s important to make finding a competent caregiver your first priority. Ask a lot of questions. Find out how much experience the aide has had working with people with similar limitations as your loved one. Ask for references and check them. Make sure your expectations are clear from the start. Begin with a trial period to see if things work out. If they don’t, start over.

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