James T. asks:
"A friend of mine’s mother recently started needing more help with things like bathing, dressing, and general household duties. His mother’s housekeeper just stepped in and started coming more often to help her with these things. My mother is going to need more help soon too, and I want to know what the difference is between having a family friend or housekeeper help and hiring an agency. I don’t see much of a difference."
It may seem like the housekeeper or family friend is a better match than a stranger from an agency but there are a few things to consider. Does the housekeeper have any experience or training in elder care? It all may seem so common sense but there are techniques to doing things the “caregiver way” that come with experience and further ensure safety. Another issue to keep in mind when utilizing just one person is, what do you do if they cannot come to work or have a personal issue requiring time off? Who is going to fill in for them? Already being comfortable with someone is absolutely a huge plus but keep two things in mind. Firstly, there may be boundaries that the housekeeper crosses by being a friend that make it difficult to resolve issues or to let them go if something isn’t going great. Secondly, if things do go wrong, you not only lose a housekeeper and caregiver, but a close friend.
Most importantly, caregivers through an agency are bonded and the company is insured. If a caregiver causes damage to the home or something goes missing, you are covered. If this happens with a friend, you are likely not protected.
We do understand that in some cases, there is no room in the budget to hire someone and having family or a friend step in is the only option. You also don't have to choose one or the other if you need more help, you can have both. At the end of the day, your parent’s safety is most important and ultimately, the decision is yours on what works best for you.
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*All information is meant as advice based on personal experience and should not be referred to as medical data.