Finding In-Home Help for an Elderly Parent

by Reader Contributors

Finding In Home Help for an Elderly Parent photo

Does an elderly loved one need care and help around the house that you can’t provide? Use these tips to find reliable, safe and affordable in-home help for them.

My Mom lives alone and is recovering from a fall. After nearly three weeks in rehab, they sent her home. She can barely walk and I’m concerned.

She has some money saved, so I’d like to find some in-home help for her. I’d like to find someone to make sure she eats and maybe does a little light housecleaning. I’ve never looked for in-home help before. Where should I go and what should I look for?

How Do You Go About Finding In-Home Help for an Elderly Parent?

We reached out to readers to share their experiences finding in-home help for an elderly parent. See if some of their advice can help you find someone to help care for your parent.

Check into a Wealth of Information

After my 83-year-old mother had surgery, I asked the case manager at the rehabilitation facility for help regarding this same issue. She provided me with a name of a company that would come and do light house work and cooking. All of the employees were CNAs. I was pleasantly surprised at the rates. You should be able to contact your mother’s case worker even after her discharge. They are a wealth of information.

I also put together a simple spreadsheet, so my mother could check off her daily meds as she took them. She liked it so much she asked me to create one to track her meals and water intake. This really helped her routine.

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Visiting Angels May Help

Visiting Angels is a wonderful organization. They do meal prep, housekeeping, and help with dressing and bathing. They can’t dispense medication but can remind her to take them. Hope this helps.

Can the Doctor Help?

Your mom’s doctor or the rehab center should evaluate her needs and set up help for her. My father’s doctor arranged for frequent visiting nurse visits and for weekday delivery of meals on wheels. He had back injury following an auto crash.

Council on Aging Provides This Service

Council on Aging (check your state’s Eldercare services for local office) provides that type of services on a routine basis.

Also check her insurance. It may have provisions for in home care.

Do Your Research

There are a lot of good home health agencies that can supply a nurse aide for an hourly fee. They can make lunches, help your mother shower and change clothes, change her sheets, or do dishes. Search for home health company ratings online.

You should also check with your county or state aging services office. They frequently have volunteers who will come and visit. They can help with lunch or just be a friendly visitor. Some counties or states even have funds available to help with costs to pay nurse aides or purchase medical alert devices and medical supplies. Taking time to do some research could pay off in the long run.
Cindy in West Jordan, UT

Expert Advice from a Retired Geriatric Care Manager

Every state provides services to the elderly under the Home Care Program. There are often financial requirements for this program. However, this is the best place to start. To find your local Home Care Program for the elderly on the internet, you should type in “Home Care Program” and the name of the state in which your mom lives.

Your mom’s local senior center is also a good place to inquire. If there is no senior center, then contact the town’s human services department. They will be familiar with this and other programs and often have a wealth of helpful information. These centers will probably have information about both agencies and individuals who will provide homemaking services for a fee.

Some churches also have volunteer programs. However, it sounds like she might first need to be assessed by a professional. I’m a retired geriatric care manager.

Matching Workers to Those in Need matches workers with those who need help. You can look at the profiles of people before deciding if you want to contact them. You can also specify what days, hours, and cost parameters you need.

Look to Local Churches for Possible Help

I am a 70-year-old woman who lives in Southern California, who has many medical- and age-related issues. Through the state (California), there is a program called IHSS (In Home Support Services) that will pay a caregiver of a disabled person (any age) a base amount of money, depending on the total time required to care for the person.

Also, the county (in my case San Bernardino County) has a Department of Aging that provides help with in home care workers and electric bills, and can put me in contact with the proper agencies needed for specialized services.

I am also involved with a local church that has a ministry that provides friendship and help for seniors. I have made a wonderful friend. Her family has “adopted” me. I meet with her twice a month and she brings me personal and household things that I need. I have a shopping list that lists things like lotion, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, disinfectant spray, denture adhesive and tablets, toothpaste, floss, toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, paper napkins, foil, plastic wrap, trash bags, and much more. There is a $25 maximum for each delivery. Besides our monthly meetings, she has taken me out to lunch several times and even had me to her home for dinner. I live alone, and her husband has also helped me out on several occasions with things that needed to be done. I thank God for the woman who started this ministry.

Always Do a Background Check

Check with your local senior center for an in-home services program. I am the director of this program in my community. We offer help with personal care (by CNAs) and light housekeeping. Services are provided by our vetted staff on a sliding fee scale funded by a state grant. If your community does not have a similar program and you hire an individual privately, be sure to do background and reference checks.

Check for Referrals

To choose in-home care, start by asking the rehab center’s social worker for referrals. Make sure the company bonds and insures its employees. Ask for references and interview the proposed helper along with your mother. The helper should be personable as well as competent.

Medicare often pays for certain in-home care after rehab if the person was admitted (key word!) to the hospital for three days or more prior to going to the rehab center. Check to see if your mother qualifies.
Barbara in SC

Seek Advice from Trusted People

As a person recovering from a severe disability, I have had to utilize in home care from the time I returned from the hospital until now. Although I can do more now, they still help with major house cleaning, heavy lifting, grocery shopping, and walking my dogs.

I asked friends and trusted people for suggestions as well as the local high school principal. Two of my best helpers have been high school students wanting to later study medicine.

Two Associations to Look at Further

Contact the National Association on Aging. They should have a local office (called AAA in many areas). Your mother may be eligible for many different services that will help keep her in her home and keep her safe. The National Pace Association (Planned All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) may also help if they are in your area.

Contact Your Local CPA

I asked my CPA this very same question, and his response was this: “When hiring an individual for home help, the regulations require that the payments be in the form of wages. You would have to pay the associated social security and Medicare taxes on the wages. We could surely assist you in the set up and the filing of the required reports and paying the tax due. This would not require much cost on our end as it is fairly simple and routine for us.”

If you need to hire in-home health care helpers, contact your local CPA and they can help you set things up properly.
Lisa in UT

You’re Not Alone

First check out federal programs through Medicare and the Veterans Administration that may provide some in home care. If there is a secondary health insurance involved, find out if this service is provided on a temporary basis after hospitalization or injury.

Next speak with social workers at your local hospital or senior citizens center that may keep a list of local people who will provide these services for an hourly wage. It may be that you only need help a few hours a day or even every other day.

Get signed up with “Meals on Wheels” for daily meal service. Talk to your pastor, neighbors, or friends. They may help for free or for an hourly wage. Tell everyone you know about your situation. You may be surprised to find that others are in your shoes and already have some answers or resources that can help you. Sometimes even a high school student can help with meal preparation, housekeeping, and a little socialization for a reasonable charge if real nursing help isn’t needed. These are problems that many others are facing. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Foster a Meaningful Friendship

If you live near a university, see if they have a gerontology department (aging) or a pre-med program. Those students are always looking for practical experience with an older adult. Many of them may go on to medical school, so these are valuable experiences for them. Usually the program can send an email out to all their students to see if any of them are interested in helping.

If you don’t have a university close, how about the high school? Many of them have vocational departments that help students find jobs in areas they may be interested in pursuing after graduation. If you can find a student interested in going into nursing or family studies, they might also welcome the chance to earn some money and get some experience.

Make sure their duties are clearly stated, and you shouldn’t have any problems. An added benefit is that sometimes the student and the older adult develop a friendship that is meaningful to both of them.

Reviewed January 2022

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