Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
I need to locate a good in-home caregiver for my 83-year-old mother. What is the best way to find and hire a caregiver?
Finding a good in-home caregiver for an elderly parent can be challenging. How can you find one that is reliable and trustworthy, as well as someone your parent likes and is comfortable with? Here are some tips that can help.
Know Your Needs
Before you start the task of looking for an in-home caregiver, your first step is to determine the level of care required. This can help pinpoint the type of care needed. For example, if she only needs help with daily living tasks like shopping, cooking, doing laundry, bathing or dressing, a "homemaker" or "personal care aide" will do.
If she needs health care services, there are "home health aides" that may do all the things a homemaker does. Home health aides also have training in administering medications, changing wound dressings and other medical-related duties. Home health aides often work under a nurse's supervision.
Once you settle on a level of care, you will then need to decide how many hours of assistance she will need. For example, does your mom need someone to come in a few mornings a week to help her cook, clean, run errands or bathe? Or does she need more continuous care that requires daily visits or a full-time aide?
After you determine her needs, there are two ways you can go about hiring someone. You can either go through an agency or you can hire someone directly.
Hiring Through an Agency
Hiring a personal care or home health aide through an agency is often the safest and easiest option, but it can be more expensive. Costs typically run anywhere between $14 and $25 an hour depending on where you live and the qualifications of the aide.
An agency will handle everything, including an assessment of your mom's needs, assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to care for her and finding a fill-in on days her aide is not available.
There are drawbacks, however. For instance, you may not have much input on the selection of the caregiver. The caregivers may change or alternate, which can cause a disruption.
To find a home-care agency in your mom's area, ask for referrals through friends, family or doctors' offices. You can also use the home-care locator service tool at PayingForSeniorCare.com – click on "Find Quality, Affordable Care." In addition, Medicare offers a home health compare tool at Medicare.gov/HomeHealthCompare to help you find and compare home health care agencies.
You should be aware that original Medicare does not cover in-home caregiving services unless your mom is receiving doctor ordered skilled nursing or therapy services at home. If your mom is in a certain Medicare Advantage plan, or is low-income and qualifies for Medicaid, she may be eligible for some financial assistance.
Hiring an independent caregiver on your own is the other option, and it is usually less expensive. Costs typically range between $12 and $20 per hour. Hiring directly also gives you more control over who you hire, so you can choose someone who you feel is right for your mom.
Be aware that if you do hire someone on your own, you become the employer. There is no agency support to fall back on if problems arise or if the aide does not show up. You are also responsible for payroll taxes and any work-related injuries that may happen. If you choose this option make sure you check the aide's references thoroughly and conduct a criminal background check.
To find someone, ask for referrals or try eldercare-matching services like Care.com or CareLinx.com. For a fee, an aging life care expert (see AgingLifeCare.org) may help you find a caregiver.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.
Published July 5, 2019