Savvy Senior: How to Hire a Home Helper for an Aging Parent | New

Dear Wise Senior: I would like to hire a home helper for my 82 year old mother to help her with household chores like cleaning, grocery shopping and driving her to the doctor. But mom doesn’t need personal/physical care or home medical care. Any tips to help us find someone?

— Finding Sarah

Dear Sarah: Asking your mom for help around the house with some of her daily chores is a smart idea that can make a big difference in keeping her independent for longer. Here are some tips to help you find someone reliable.

• Home help : For seniors who might need home help but don’t need help with personal care, you can hire housekeepers/housekeepers who can make your life easier.

Most home health aides can help with a number of things like shopping, errands, transportation, light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, arranging services (home maintenance, maintenance lawn, etc.) and other household chores, as well as companionship and support. If your mom gets to the point where she needs personal/physical care like bathing or getting dressed, there are plenty of housekeepers who can help her as well.

Most home health aides are part-time workers who work a few hours a day or a few days a week.

You should also be aware that while Medicare covers home health care services if ordered by a doctor, they do not cover homemaker services.

There are two ways to hire someone for your mother: 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 agency or a non-medical companion is the easier but more expensive option of the two. Costs generally range between $15 and $25 per hour, depending on where you live.

You pay the company and they take care of everything, including assigning trained and screened staff to look after your mother and finding a replacement on days when her help cannot come.

However, you may not have much influence over the wizard selection, and wizards may change or alternate, which can lead to disruption.

To find a home care agency in your area, use search engines like Google or Yahoo and type in “non-medical home care” followed by the city and state where your mother lives. Or you can use the Medicare home health services finder at — click on “home health services”. Most home health agencies also offer some form of non-medical home care services. You can also check the pages of your local telephone directory under “home health services”.

• Hire directly: Hiring a personal assistant/home helper is the other option, and it’s cheaper. Costs generally range between $12 and $20 per hour. Direct hire also gives you more control over who you hire, so you can choose someone you think is a good fit for your mom.

But be aware that if you hire someone on your own, you become the employer, so there’s no agency support to fall back on if a problem arises or the assistant doesn’t show up. . You are also responsible for paying payroll taxes and any work-related injuries that may occur. If you choose this option, be sure to check the person’s references and do a criminal background check.

To find someone, ask friends for referrals or you can search online on sites like Where

For more information on hiring a caregiver for your mother, the Family Caregiver Alliance has a helpful guide that you can access at

Send your senior questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is an NBC Today contributor and author of “The Savvy Senior.”

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