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Are You Overwhelmed Caring for Someone Else? Call Your Concierge

Assistance with home repairs, buying groceries

What can a concierge do to ease the burden?

  • Lighten caregiver's load: In Mesa, Ariz., Debbie Bachler at White Glove Pet and Home Concierge helps clear the caregiver's to-do list by doing her groceries, dry cleaning or post office run, so that she has time to spend with her parents. She also offers elder-sitting services so that the caregiver can go out for an evening or even take a vacation.
  • Help with private matters: "Older adults feel badly about asking their children for things," says concierge Lynn Sudlow of the Complete Errand in West Lebanon, N.H. "And they like their privacy. Clients ask me to do things that she doesn't want to bother her children with."
  • Save you money: Most concierges charge between $25 and $55 an hour, according to the ICLMA, and are even cheaper than that in certain parts of the country. This is a bargain if you consider that the average female caregiver gives up an estimated $324,000 in lost wages, Social Security benefits and pension, according to a 2011 MetLife Mature Market Institute study, when she leaves the workforce early. Nearly one in four employed caregivers finds herself in this scenario, and reports either having stopped working, turned down a promotion, lost benefits or chosen early retirement to meet her responsibilities.

But how do I find one?

Finding someone reputable is of utmost importance. Giovanni recommends the following tips:

  • Screen for concierges who have business liability insurance and do background checks on their employees.
  • When you find candidates you like, ask for references and then call each one. Check on their status with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Use websites such as Yelp to read client reviews of their work.

Also of interest: Limiting overtime for home health care workers. >>

Cynthia Ramnarace writes about health and families. She lives in New York.

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