Elder Care: Time To Go Local

by Eric Corum

My mother is relatively healthy.  She still works a full-time job and drives herself to work everyday.   She is also a paraplegic.  So when she fell out of her wheelchair and broke her leg a couple of years ago, I was worried.  Her situation got complicated when she needed help getting in and out of the shower every night while her leg was healing.  I live 200 miles away from her so I couldn’t care for her.  My siblings were also unable to be there to help her every night.  As a result, I started to look for help.

I work in the elder-care industry so the first thing I did was call the licensed PAS (personal attendant service) agencies in her area and got someone ready to go out to help her.  It was inefficient.  I knew it would be.  The trouble was that we only needed the help for 30 minutes, but none of the attendants would go out for 30 minutes worth of work.

So I ended up paying a pretty high rate for 2 hours of work.  This lasted for about 2 weeks until the caregiver got tired of driving to my mom’s house and quit.  The agency worked to get us another caregiver and after a couple of days, they found someone else.  This one lasted even shorter than the first one.  I was actually not that frustrated with the situation because I know how hard it is to staff work like this.

My mother ended up finding someone in the neighborhood that could walk over to her house and help her out.  This was perfect.  It was easy for all parties and financially beneficial all the way around because we were able to cut out the middleman (i.e. the licensed PAS agency).

My advice to anyone out there who is looking for help for their loved-one: try to find someone close by that you can trust.  The benefits of hiring someone close by include:

  • You or you neighbors may already know them
  • They will be more willing to do small jobs since there is not a lot of travel time
  • The lack of travel time reduces the chances of them not showing up because of traffic, flat tire, etc.
  • Cutting out the middleman yields higher wages for the helper
  • Cutting out the middleman yields lower payments for the client
  • It helps build a stronger community

 

Although the term “local” is a fad these days with food and merchandise, when it comes to elder care, “going local” isn’t just a fad.  Finding local caregivers and helpers may be the only way to meet the ever-growing caregiving needs of our aging population.

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