When should you hire domestic help or health aides?

Most people want to age in place and live at home for as long as possible: According to an AARP survey, three-quarters of people 50 and older hope to do so.

But managing it successfully may mean hiring outside help, such as health aides, who can help you with daily activities that have become challenging. You may be wondering when exactly it would make sense to seek out this service. How will you know when it’s time? What can assistants do for you? What are the costs and how can you make the most of their help?

Is it time to hire a domestic help?

An easy way to tell if it’s time for outside help is if your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse – perhaps as a result of a fall that affects your mobility. But more often than not, the need for professional help at home is not so obvious. It develops gradually as certain abilities – such as cooking, cleaning or driving – become more difficult.

Even if you are busy, happy, and able to do your own tasks and errands now, there may come a time when the balance changes and daily activities become challenging.

“Many times these observations are made by family members or friends, and they start the discussion about getting help,” says Dr. Suzanne Salamon, associate chief of gerontology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Start here: Ask yourself the tough questions

You don’t have to wait until family and friends urge you to get outside help. Dr. Salamon recommends periodically assessing your abilities and how well you’re doing on your own.

For example:

  • Is it harder to get in and out of the tub because of muscle weakness or balance problems?
  • Is driving difficult because of vision changes, arthritis, or other reasons?
  • Are you sticking to your medication regimen or are you sometimes not sure if you’ve taken your pills?
  • Are cooking and cleaning becoming much more of a chore than they used to be?
  • Do you find grocery shopping or errands a bit overwhelming?
  • Do you need help bathing or dressing?

Be honest about the answers and let your needs guide you. “You may not need a home health aide just yet. “Maybe you just need a cleaning service that comes every other week,” says Dr. Salamon. “But if you need more help, it’s probably time to hire health aides.

What do healthcare assistants do?

Healthcare assistants are professional caregivers. There are two main types of helpers.

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): This is a trained, licensed professional who can provide hands-on physical care, such as helping you get in and out of a chair or bed, bathing, dressing, feeding, brushing your teeth, and using the bathroom. A CNA may also perform homemaker services such as cooking, light housework, transportation, shopping, monitoring medication routines, or sharing meaningful activities or conversations.
  • companion: This is a registered professional who can provide the services of a home mechanic, but is not trained in body mechanics and cannot provide hands-on care.

The best place to find aides is through a private care agency that screens and hires the aides and takes care of their taxes and social security.

How can you find a reliable private care company and what questions should you ask? Dr. Salamon suggests asking friends, your doctor, local senior services or your local regional agency on aging for referrals.

How much does it cost to hire healthcare assistants?

Private on-call care is expensive. Costs average $25 to $30 per hour, usually with a minimum of three to four hours per week.

These fees add up quickly. For example, if you need help two days a week for three hours a day, you’ll pay about $600 to $720 a month.

The costs are not usually covered by Medicare, but are often covered by veterans benefits. And sometimes they are covered in whole or in part by long-term care insurance, state or local agencies on aging, or nonprofit organizations.

What can prevent you from getting the help you need?

Price is a factor, of course. Even if it isn’t, you might not jump at the chance to hire home health aides. You may feel that you don’t need them yet, or that you will feel uncomfortable with strangers in your home.

But the sooner you can get professionals used to helping you with parts of your care when they become challenging, the better prepared you’ll be later when you may need a lot more help. Trying out services now can give you contacts—and caring people—you may need to rely on more often over time.

How can you overcome your reluctance? “Remember you don’t have to commit to private care forever. Just try it for a few hours once a week. If it’s not going well, consider alternatives, such as possibly moving into assisted living,” Dr. Salamon says.

How far can a few hours of home help go?

What can an assistant achieve if you start with just a few hours a week? a lot.

You may want to establish a regular routine that includes laundry, bed changes, walking with you, and preparing a large meal that can be frozen in smaller portions. Or you may want to focus on a theme for each visit once a week. For example, a helper might help you run errands one week, do some light house cleaning the next week, and help you cook the week after that.

“This is your opportunity to get the help you need, whether it’s working around the house or basic activities of daily living,” says Dr. Salamon. “In the long run, this is the service that will make you live on your own longer.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *