For seniors who could use some help at home - but don't need an aide for personal care - there are numerous personal assistance/home helpers out there who can help make life a little easier. Most home helpers can assist with a number of things, including shopping, running errands, transportation, light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, arranging services (home maintenance, lawn care, etc.) and other household chores, along with providing companionship and support. Additionally, if at some point in the future your mom needs personal/physical care, like bathing or dressing, a home helper can usually assist with this too. Most home helpers are part-time workers who work a few hours a day or a few days per week. You also need to know that, while Medicare does cover home healthcare services if a doctor orders it, Medicare does not cover home helper/personal assistant services. There are two ways in which you can go about hiring someone for your mom; either through a home care agency or by hiring someone directly on your own.
Home Care Agency
Hiring a home helper through a non-medical home care or non-medical companion care agency is the easiest option. However, it is typically more expensive than hiring someone on your own. Costs run anywhere from $12 up to $30 an hour depending on where you live and the qualification of the assistant/aide. After you pay the company, they will handle everything, including assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to care for your mom and finding fill-in assistants on days her helper is unable to assist. Some of the drawbacks, however, include the fact that you may not have much input in selecting the aide. In addition, the helpers may change or alternate, which can cause a disruption in your mom's daily patterns. To find a home care agency in your area, conduct an internet search using the words "non-medical home care" followed by the city and state your mom lives in. Alternatively, you can use Medicare's home health agencies search tool Medicare.gov/hhcompare. Most home health agencies offer some form of non-medical home care services too. You can also check your local yellow pages under "home healthcare services."
Hiring a personal assistant/home helper on your own is the other option and it is usually less expensive. Costs typically range between $10 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. However, you should be aware that by hiring someone on your own, you become the employer. As such, if a problem occurs or if the assistant doesn't show up you will not have an agency or company to fall back on for support or back-up assistance. You will also be responsible for paying payroll taxes and providing compensation for worker-related injuries that may occur. If you choose this option, make sure you review the person's references thoroughly and conduct a criminal background check. To find someone, ask for referrals through friends or check online job boards like CraigsList.org. You can also look at Care.com, CareLinx.com, CareFamily.com or CareSpotter.com.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.