Most seniors say that they would prefer to live at home as they age. In fact, according to the AARP, more than 90% of seniors want to age in place. Fulfilling this wish, however, can be a challenge for their adult children. How do they help their aging loved one stay at home while ensuring their safety and well being? A qualified home care provider may be the solution.
Home care is defined as non-medical assistance provided by experienced caregivers. It includes activities ranging from basic needs such as meal preparation, medication reminders and companionship, to more sophisticated needs such as bathing, grooming and incontinence care.
Medicare and private health insurance do not pay for non-medical home care. However, since home care can be limited to only the hours needed, it may initially cost less than an assisted living facility. Once the care moves to 24 hours a day, the costs become more aligned.
There are two main options for home care providers: full service agency and private caregiver. Here are some pros and cons of each.
Full service agency
Caregivers provided through a full service agency are pre-screened, and paid by the agency. This relieves you of the payroll, insurance and personnel issues encountered with a privately hired caregiver. Also, because the agency has a pool of caregivers, if your assigned caregiver is sick or doesn’t work out, the agency can quickly provide another. Because of these services, however, you will typically pay more for a caregiver through a full service agency than when you hire someone yourself.
It’s important to note that the state of California does not currently license agencies, so there are no specific requirements that agencies need to meet. Be sure that you thoroughly research and interview several agencies when making your selection.
With a private caregiver you often have more control over scheduling and activities as well as pay treatment. Many agencies require a minimum number of hours per day/week. And the cost of hiring a private caregiver will typically be lower than through an agency, sometimes as much as 20-30% lower. Youdo have the added burden, however, of making sure you adhere to relevant, current employment and tax laws. And unless you’re able to arrange for back up, you may be left without a caregiver in the event of unplanned absences and other disruptions.
Whether you choose an agency or decide to hire a caregiver on your own, you still need to perform due diligence in making your selection. Meeting with the caregiver in person will give you a feel for whether they are a personality match for your loved one. But that’s not enough. You need to confirm that it’s a trustworthy person/agency.
Ask about proof of insurance, experience, referrals and references. AARP has resources on specific things you should look for in an agency or when hiring a private caregiver .
Providing your senior with the ability to age in their home can extend their independence and quality of life. Doing your homework on both the agency and the individual before making a home care provider decision will provide you with peace of mind.