Today’s guest post is by Peter Kang of eCaregivers, a website that helps families find affordable private caregivers.
Did you know that 90% of seniors prefer to age in place—in the comfort of their own home? Home care is often the most affordable and preferred long-term care option, allowing for highly personalized care compared to nursing homes and assisted living.
According to the latest cost of care survey from Genworth, families can expect to pay an estimated $43,000 a year for an assisted living facility—not including additional fees if your loved one requires extra care or one-on-one assistance. Nursing home costs are significantly higher at around $80,000 a year or more depending on room preferences (semi-private or private).
Even so, many families are still ill-prepared for the financial burden of home care because they don’t plan on their loved one needing long-term care.
A survey of 1,000 adults aged 40 and older found that only 35% put away money for long-term care. Jennifer Agiesta, director of polling, said that many “people tend to guess wrong when they think about how much long-term care will cost them.”
Are you worried about being able to finance home care for your loved one?
1. Family Caregivers
By becoming a family caregiver, you can save thousands each year on the cost of care.
Approximately 34.2 million family caregivers in the United States provide unpaid care for an adult 50 years or older. On average, these caregivers spend 20 hours a week caring for their loved one. Much of this time is spent on helping the care recipient with their activities of daily living—things like bathing, toileting, and grooming. Other things that family caregivers help with are managing their loved one’s finances, meal preparation, and housework.
While being a family caregiver allows your loved one to save money, there are several things you must consider:
- Does your current financial situation allow you to dedicate at least 20 hours a week in caring for your loved one? You may need to take some time off from working in order to meet these needs.
- Will you be able to help your loved one with their activities of daily living? 1 in 4 family caregivers find it difficult to provide proper assistance. 40% of family caregivers find that the most difficult duties are dealing with personal care—such as incontinence, changing adult diapers, and bathing.
- Do you have a support system of friends and relatives that you can rely on? Remember, you’re not in it alone when it comes to caregiving. Don’t be afraid to reach out for extra help so you can prevent caregiver stress.
2. Hiring a Caregiver Directly
Professional caregivers employed by a home care agency handle all aspects of providing personal care. In some states, these paid caregivers must be certified by a licensing board. Agencies provide families with benefits like covering a caregiver’s payroll tax and insurance coverage in the event they’re injured on the job. Other responsibilities include screening caregivers and providing back-up caregivers if your caregiver takes time off or is sick. Using a home care agency has its benefits, but of course these benefits mean the cost of care is usually higher than working with a caregiver directly.
Another option in finding affordable home care for seniors is hiring a caregiver directly who you find through word-of-mouth. Ask your community for hiring a caregiver directly. If your loved one is part of a congregation or volunteer organization, there may be someone within the organization who has caregiving experience and is available to help.
When hiring directly, many families rely on word-of-mouth to find the right caregiver for their loved one. While you may be able to find more affordable care with private caregivers, you will have to be more involved in the process.
Always check references thoroughly and do your part in verifying the caregiver’s experience. We suggest at minimum:
- Asking for at least three references and calling them. Two of them should be from their former employers.
- Asking to see a valid form of identification like their driver’s license or passport. If the caregiver will provide your loved one with transportation, take note of their driver’s license number and ask for verification of insurance and registration if they’ll be using their own car. Depending on the state you live in, you can go to the DMV for a proof of clean driving record.
- If the caregiver is licensed, check with their licensing body to verify license status.
- Ask the caregiver to sign a release form so you can run a background check.
- Use available online services that allow you to verify someone’s identity and if they have a criminal record. You should at least know their full name and current address to get started.
If your loved one needs care immediately—especially after getting home from a recent hospitalization or rehabilitation center—it’s not always easy to find a caregiver through word-of-mouth especially during a stressful time.
3. Finding Affordable Home Care with eCaregivers
If you’re interested in hiring a caregiver directly but don’t know where to start, eCaregivers is an online community that connects you with local, pre-screened caregivers. You can search for caregivers who live and work in your neighborhood with your zip code. Unlike your local classifieds sections, private caregivers are able to create an online profile of their experiences and qualifications. eCaregivers also lets interview as many caregivers as you would like—something that most agencies won’t allow.
Using eCaregivers, you can find private caregivers with rates starting at $10-$14/hour for care, versus $20-$24 with an agency, helping you save thousands of dollars in a year while still ensuring quality home care for your loved one.
All of the caregivers on eCaregivers have passed a criminal background check so you have a peace of mind that you’re hiring a vetted caregiver for your loved one.
About the Author: Peter Kang is a writer for eCaregivers. He is inspired by his caregiver experience with his late grandfather and role model, a Korean War veteran, to help families find affordable care for their loved ones. Follow Peter on Facebook and Twitter.