Many communities offer services to assist older people with household chores, from mowing the lawn and building handrails to making small electrical repairs and even doing laundry and housekeeping.
Eligibility requirements and fees vary, but these programs all share a common goal: To help people stay in their homes.
So how do you find a chore service? Start by contacting your local area agency on aging (AAA), which likely can point you to a local service. Use the online Eldercare Locator to find the nearest AAA.
These are the main types of programs you’ll encounter:
Some organizations provide referrals to local contractors and repair services, who then negotiate directly with the homeowner or his caregiver. If your loved one lives in a community such as the Beacon Hill Village in Boston or the Capitol Hill Village in Washington, D.C., he may be eligible for discounted services.
Typically, contractors are screened by the organization and are required to be licensed, bonded and insured. But it’s still a good idea to check to see what the criteria are for referrals.
Before hiring someone, get several contractors’ names, and compare services and costs. Check references, too.
Volunteer-Based and Discounted Services
In some areas, there are organizations that directly provide household help. For instance, the Bergen County, N.J., Chore Service has a team of volunteer handymen and handywomen that performs minor household repairs for people who are disabled or who are age 60 and older. The labor is free, but clients must pay for any parts used.
Similar programs exist in other areas, but some have income and location requirements. Programs often have a sliding fee schedule based on a person’s ability to pay.
Before signing on with a chore service, ask what type of training its employees and volunteers receive and whether the organization conducts background checks. Also ask how employees are supervised and monitored. Find out if the organization and its workers are bonded and insured.
Medicaid-Funded Support Services
In some states, Medicaid and other government programs provide assistance with various chores. These often include shopping, laundry and light housekeeping, as well as help with personal care, such as bathing and grooming.
To receive Medicaid, recipients need to meet the program’s income and asset criteria and possibly medical criteria, too. Learn more about qualifying for Medicaid.