Dear accomplished senior,
I would like to hire a domestic help for my 82 year old mother to help with household chores like housework, grocery shopping and driving to the doctor etc. But mother doesn’t need any personal/physical care either Does she need home medical care? Any tips to help us find someone?
— Looking for Sarah
Getting help for your mom at home to do some of her daily chores is a smart idea that can make a big difference in helping her stay independent for longer. Here are some tips to help you find someone reliable.
help at home
For seniors who could use some help around the home – but don’t need a caregiver for personal hygiene – there are housewives/housekeepers you can hire to make life a little easier.
Most household helpers can assist with a number of things such as shopping, errands, transportation, light housekeeping, laundry, meal prep, arranging services (household, lawn care, etc.) and other household chores, along with company and support. And when your mother gets to the point where she needs personal/physical care such as bathing or dressing, many domestic helpers can assist with that as well.
Most domestic helpers are part-time workers, working a few hours a day or a few days a week.
You also need to know that while Medicare covers home health care if a doctor orders it, it does not cover housekeeping/assistance services in the home.
There are two ways you can hire someone for your mom; either through a home care agency or you hire someone yourself.
Home Care Agency
Hiring a home help through a non-physician home care or non-physician companion care agency is the easiest but most expensive option of the two. Costs typically range from $15 to $25 per hour depending on where you live.
How it works is that you pay the company and they take care of everything, including assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to look after your mother and finding someone to cover for days when her helper is unable to come.
However, some of the downsides are that you may not have much influence over helper selection, and helpers may rotate or take turns, which can cause interference.
To find a home care agency near you, use search engines like Google or Yahoo and type in “non-medical home care,” followed by the city and where your mother lives. Or you can use the Medicare home health services search tool at Medicare .gov/care-compare – click on “home health services”. Most home health care facilities also offer some form of non-medical home care services. You can also check GP Services in your local Yellow Pages.
Hiring a personal assistant/housekeeper on your own is the other option, and it’s less expensive. Costs typically range from $12 to $20 per hour. Hiring directly also gives you more control over who you hire, so you can choose someone who you think is right for your mom.
Note, however, that if you hire someone on your own, you become the employer, so if a problem arises or the assistant doesn’t show up, you won’t have the agency’s support to fall back on. You are also responsible for paying payroll taxes and any work-related injuries. If you choose this option, make sure you thoroughly check the person’s references and check for a criminal background.
To find someone, ask friends for recommendations or search online at sites like Care.com or CareLinx.com.
For more information on hiring home help for your mother, the Family Caregiver Alliance has a helpful guide that you can access at Caregiver.org/resource/hiring-home-help.
Submit your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today Show and the author of The Savvy Senior.