Savvy Senior: How to hire an in-home helper for an aging parent | Qa

QUESTION: I would like to hire an in-home helper for my 82-year-old mother to assist with household chores such as housekeeping, grocery shopping and driving her to the doctor, etc. But mom doesn’t require any personal/physical caregiving, nor does she require any home medical care. Any tips to help us find someone?

ANSWER: Getting your mother some help at home to handle some of her day-to-day chores is a smart idea that can make a big difference in keeping her independent longer.

Here are some tips to help you find someone reliable.

For seniors who could use some help at home — but don’t need a caregiving aid for personal care — there are homemakers/home helpers you can hire to help make life a little easier.

Most in-home helpers can assist with any number of things, such as 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.

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And if your mom needs personal/physical care, such as bathing or dressing, many home helpers can assist with this, too.

Most home helpers are part-timers who work a few hours a day or a few days per week.

Although Medicare covers home health care services if a doctor orders it, it does not cover in-home homemaker/helper services.

You can hire someone for your mom through a home care agency or directly on your own.

Hiring a home helper through a non-medical home care or non-medical companion care agency is the easier, but more expensive option of the two. Costs typically run anywhere from $15 to $25 an hour, depending on where you live.

How it works is you pay the company, and it handles everything, including assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to care for your mother and finding a fill-in on days her helper cannot work.

Some of the drawbacks, however, are that you may not have much input into the selection of the aid, and the helpers might change or alternate, which can cause a disruption.

To find a home care agency in your area, use search engines such as Google or Yahoo and type in “non-medical home care” followed by the city and state in which your mom lives.

Or use Medicare’s home health services search tool at — click on “home health services.” Most home health agencies offer some form of non-medical home care services, too.

Hiring a personal assistant/home helper 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 whom you hire so you can choose someone who you feel is right for your mom.

However, if you do hire someone on your own, you become the employer, so there’s no agency support to fall back on if a problem occurs or if the assistant doesn’t show up. You’re also responsible for paying payroll taxes and expenses related to any worker-related injuries that might happen. If you choose this option, check the person’s references thoroughly and do a criminal background check.

To find someone, ask for referrals through friends or search online at such sites as or

For more information on hiring in-home help for your mom, the Family Caregiver Alliance offers a helpful guide that you can access at

Jim Miller is editor of the Savvy Senior. Send your senior questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit


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