Anaheim Hills, CA (PressExposure) July 25, 2009 -- As the first of the baby boomers turns 65 the senior population is projected to grow exponentially over the next few years. According to the U.S. Census this age group will more than double between now and 2050, bringing the number to over 88 million seniors. Not only are the boomers aging in to this distinctive group, making it the fastest growing age category, but at the other end of the spectrum is the growing group of centenarians that is expected to grow from just 79,000 in 2010 to more than 600,000 in 2050.
As large as this growing group of older adults is, the majority have one common desire: to stay living in their own homes as long as possible and to stay out of nursing facilities. This is much easier said than done in this economic recession. For many seniors, staying at home means hiring a caregiver who will provide assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, walking, cooking and housekeeping. Unfortunately, the fall of the stock market and the downward spiraling economy has left many seniors wondering how they are going to pay for their retirement needs now. Many of the adult children of seniors who were helping to pay for home care for their parents have lost their jobs or are having to get by on lesser paying positions, making them less able to contribute to the home care needs of their parents. While the need for in-home care for seniors is growing faster than ever, the ability for seniors and their families to afford these services is lower than ever before.
If you are like most people who are looking for in-home care giving, then you probably do what so many others do: pick up the phone and call your local home care agency. This is a great option when you need care quickly and easily, or when you don't have the time or knowledge to find a caregiver any other way. By going through an agency you are assured that a background check was conducted and it's likely that the caregiver is bonded and insured. You also don't need to worry about properly paying payroll taxes because the agency will take care of that for you. For these conveniences, however, you are paying a premium for home care. You may be paying $4-6 per hour more than you have to. If you multiply that out over the number of hours worked per week/month/year the amount that you may be over-spending for the convenience of a home care agency is staggering. If you use just 20 hours of care per week, that could potentially be $4,000-$5000 overpayment per year.
Before the meteoric appearance and permanence of the internet you really had no choice but to go to an agency to find a home care worker. Unless you were an accountant, a private investigator and a human resources professional it would have been very difficult to run background checks, pay employee taxes and deal with employee issues. Even if you happen to be a professional accountant-investigator-HR representative, just locating potential caregivers was a challenge, unless you didn't mind using your hairdresser's sister-in-law who just lost her job as a baggage clerk at the grocery store.
If you are a high-tech senior or family member and have internet access you can accomplish many of the necessary tasks online as well as locate resources that will help you to hire and keep a good private caregiver in a way that is safe, legal and easy. If you are willing to do a bit of the leg work ahead of time, then you could potentially save many $1,000's per year on home care.
The following are some of the steps that you can complete yourself using online resources:
1. Locating a private caregiver - Various sites exist where you can find potential caregivers who are interested in working privately. You can conduct a search on sites such as Craigslist.org, Pennysaverusa.com, or try Caregiverneeded.com to find workers. Other, more formal, sites allow you to search a database of potential workers and view a profile which includes experience, background and even pictures. Once you find 1 or more caregivers that you are interested in you will have to pay a small fee to access the contact information of the caregiver candidate. One such site, Seniority1.com, is an online venue that helps caregivers with experience in senior care and seniors, who need their care, find each other. If you are going the old fashion route, you could also ask your friends, church or local senior center if they know of any available experience caregivers.
2. Screening potential workers - Once you locate a caregiver candidate you are going to want to run a background check on your potential employee. Be aware that you are legally required to obtain the applicant's signed consent prior to running a background check. There are many websites out there that provide "instant" low-cost background checks, but most don't meet the laws for hiring suitability. The report you choose should include the following: Social Security number check to verify identity. A liens and judgment check will show the financial standing of a person. This is important because how a person manages their money is representative of their responsibility and characters. A Fraud Abuse and Control Information System (FACIS) report will search for sanctions and disciplinary actions against various healthcare providers including CNA's and LVN's. Also important are to cross reference the Sex Offender Registry, criminal records search and a DMV report. Some websites to take a look at are choicetrust.com (choose Family Security Background Check) or for the most comprehensive, yet in inexpensive option, choose a site that will also conduct an on-site search of records. One such company, Hire-Safe.com, has created a bundled background check package specifically for potential home-care providers that include 7 different types of checks including an on-site courthouse visit for one low rate.
3. Paying your Caregiver - Most people who hire private caregivers pay them "under the table" and don't pay the required taxes and withholdings. If you hire a caregiver, you are an employer and are legally required to withhold and submit payroll taxes. But don't run away yet! Paying legally has benefits for both you and your employee and you can find many on-line companies that will make this task easy for you. Some to look at are, Breedlove-Online.com, 4NannieTaxes.com, GTM.com (choose Household option) or HouseHoldPayDay.com. Once registered with these companies, they can figure out the taxes and withholdings, fill out the quarterly forms and submit payments to the required agency, create W2 forms for your employee and take care of all end of year paperwork. You can even arrange for auto-deposit of your caregiver's paychecks! Once you sign up for one of these companies there is very little you have to worry about regarding paying your new care provider.
4. Bonding - What is a bond? A fidelity bond (Employee Dishonesty Bond) guarantees the employers assets in the event that an employee should cause damage through a negligent or dishonest act. It is essentially insurance to help you re-coop any losses due to an employee. You can get your own fidelity bond on a caregiver for a few hundred dollars, or they can purchase a bond on themselves. Look at these sites for more information SuretyOne.org, BFBond.com, Brunswickcompanies.com or Platinumbnds.com. Find many more websites by searching for "fidelity bonds".
5. Insurance - Many wonder what would happen if a private caregiver was injured while on the job. You can check your homeowner's insurance policy to see if domestic employees would be covered for injuries, if not, you can see if a rider is available for purchase.
So many resources exist online for high tech seniors or their families that even if you have to pay for locating an experienced caregiver, running a background check, getting a bond and insurance and payroll and tax services, you will still likely save $100's if not $1000's every year over using a home-care agency. In these uncertain financial times, all the steps you can take to help you save money and stay at home longer, are steps that are worth taking. The initial electronic legwork that you put into finding a private caregiver and doing it right will surely pay off in the long run.