The cost of hiring someone to help care for an elderly relative has remained fairly steady in recent years, according to a recent item in The New York Times.
It’s still about $19 an hour for a hired homemaker, someone takes care of things like cooking and cleaning. A home health aide, who can assist with personal care such as dressing or bathing, costs only $1 more an hour, according to the article by Ann Carrns.
Those figures represent an increase of only about 1 percent over five years ago, according to the story.
Something else that hasn’t changed, the writer points out, is that it takes some digging to make certain the homemaker or health aide is the right person to be given the job.
Carrns offers these suggestions, with a little help from experts:
- How do I know what kind of caregiver my family member needs?
You can assess needs, like his or her ability to handle activities of daily living such as dressing, eating and bathing, using a checklist, like one provided by the National Caregivers Library. Or, you can have a professional conduct the evaluation, which is advisable, said Amy Goyer, a specialist in home and aging with AARP. To find someone qualified to do the assessment, you can contact your local office of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging for a referral. You can find the one nearest you on the federal government’s Eldercare Locator site.
- How do I go about finding a home caregiver?
One option is to use a home care agency, which will screen and train caregivers to make sure they can provide the level of care needed. Since the agency employs the caregiver, it also handles payroll tasks. An agency can also schedule alternative caregivers if your primary caregiver is ill or unable to work. Because the agency offers these services, its hourly rates may be higher.
- What if I prefer to hire someone myself?
You may be able to obtain a lower rate by hiring someone directly. But if you hire a caregiver yourself, you’ll have to handle payroll and possibly taxes, said Leah Eskenazi, director of operations for the Family Caregiver Alliance, a nonprofit that helps people caring for relatives. Ms. Eskenazi advises that word of mouth is often a good way to start your search; friends or family members who can vouch for a caregiver’s skill and reliability can be good first references. The AARP website offers a tool to search for an agency by ZIP code.
In addition, Carrns advise that websites like Care.com also help find independent candidates in a given geographic area.