Can Your Parent Benefit From A Personal Care Assistant?

When you are a parent of young children, a “mother’s helper” can be a godsend. They help around the house or watch the children so the parent can get things done. Shouldn’t there be a “daughter’s helper” or “son’s helper”? Someone to help your aging parents with household tasks, errands, etc.?

As more seniors choose to age in place, Personal Care Assistants (PCAs) are on the rise. Although they are not qualified medical assistants such as home health aides, personal care assistants provide many helpful services.

Short of providing medical care, personal care assistants can run errands, prep meals, and help around the house. If you hire someone, give them a structure of what is expected. Provide a checklist of things to do every day or every week. For example:

  • bring in mail, packages
  • take out the trash, recycling
  • unload/load dishwasher
  • take the laundry out and fold, or start laundry
  • prep or cook meals
  • go grocery shopping
  • pick up medications from the pharmacy
  • check out or return library books
  • sort through medication and vitamins and toss any that are expired
  • troubleshoot any computer, tv, electronic issues – do not underestimate how helpful this is!
  • organize closets
  • clear clutter and donate objects

Since personal care assistants don’t provide medical care, their services are not covered by insurance. If they have other jobs or clients, they may be considered independent contractors and you pay them an hourly fee. However, if they only work for you, and not hired through an agency, they may be considered your employee. Check with your accountant about your arrangement.

Pay them by check or through money sending apps such as PaypalVenmo, or Zelle. These peer-to-peer payment apps allow you to send payments directly to the helper. All you need is their email address or mobile phone number.

Personal care assistants may help with grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions and household items. It is cumbersome to give them money and keep track of the expenses. Also, it may not be a good idea to deal with cash.  Furthermore, it is a hassle to get their expenses and send reimbursement checks. However, you don’t want to hand them a credit card.

Two ways to reimburse your helper is through money sending apps as mentioned above and prepaid debit cards. Preloading a prepaid debit card limits the amount of money that can be spent. Additionally, it gives you a record of where the money is spent. Have the helper click a photo of the receipts and send them to you to keep track of expenses.

Especially if you are a long-distance caregiver, hiring a personal care assistant for your aging parent is invaluable. Not only are they helping with day-to-day activities but also they can alert you to any concerns about your parent.

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq.

Catherine Hodder, Esq. is author of Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids.

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