As the average person grows older, they may eventually need assistance with everyday activities like bathing, dressing, and toileting. Family caregivers typically provide loved ones with personal care support that addresses those needs. But sometimes, life’s busy schedules and long-distance caregiving challenges get in the way, making it necessary for families to hire home health aides and caregivers to step in. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s how to find the best home health aide for the job. 

What Are Personal Care Services?

Personal care services are intended to help seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). These are important activities that those who are entirely able-bodied take for granted, like bathing, dressing, moving around, using the toilet, eating, and walking.

Those services are a large part of nursing homes and eldercare activities. However, one doesn’t have to move into a long-term care facility to receive professional personal care support. Because personal care is usually quite sensitive and confidential, it is best delivered within the confines of the recipient’s own home whenever possible.

What is a Home Help Aide?

Several types of non-medical home care workers are often mistakenly referred to as “home health aides.” But home care providers are classified in different ways depending on their duties and levels of professional training.

For example, a companion, or homemaker, needs no special license or certification to provide services like companionship, meal preparation, and light housekeeping. A homemaker can also shop and run errands for their client or escort them to and from the doctor and other appointments.

On the other hand, a home health aide performs the same duties a homemaker does, plus assistance with more involved personal care such as bathing, grooming, and toileting. A home health aide must also pass training requirements that vary by state. For example, in Alabama, an agency-employed personal care aide must have 75 hours of training and pass a competency evaluation.

How to Find the Right One

Look for these qualifications when hiring an in-home helper for your loved one:


Experience is an essential characteristic to look for, especially if your loved one has unique care needs due to diabetes, arthritis, or something else. While considering other tasks you might need help with, find someone who has experience caring for people with your loved one’s same condition.

Compassion and empathy

Compassion, empathy, and attentiveness are all qualities that good caregivers possess. To determine if a home health aide has these characteristics, ask them why they got into their chosen profession. Learn about their interests and hobbies, as any shared interests can make time spent with your loved one much more enjoyable.


Above all, a good caregiver must be patient. Caring for an older adult, especially one with dementia or incontinence, can be taxing. One way to determine if a candidate has patience is to ask them how they handled difficult situations in the past.