How Low-Cost or Free Companion Care Can Help You Avoid a Nursing Home
Nursing Home Alternatives: Page 4
4. Hire free or low-cost companion care
Skilled in-home care can cost $20 to $30 an hour -- and even more. If the number of hours needed for care begins to mount, consider what type of help is actually necessary. Can your loved one get by with skilled in-home assistance for only a small part of the day (first thing in the morning, for example, or at bedtime), and for most of the day have a nonprofessional caregiver who simply provides companionship, helps with small household chores, and provides a presence for safety and security?
If lower-cost (or free) "companion care" is workable for your family member, here are some sources of such help:
Senior-to-senior programs. In some areas, local government or nonprofit organizations operate an agency or referral service that connects local senior volunteers with other seniors in need of companion care. To learn about whether such a senior-to-senior program exists near you, check the Eldercare Locator or call toll-free at 800-677-1116.
Churches. Some churches have programs in which congregation members volunteer to provide free in-home care for older adults. These programs usually provide only a few hours of help a week, but even that can make a big difference to a family caregiver and to overall costs. If you or your loved one belongs to a local church, find out if it has such a program, or if it knows of congregation members who provide this kind of unofficial help on their own.
Local high schools and colleges. Many high schools and colleges offer community service programs in which students volunteer to provide free local services, such as in-home care for older adults. Student volunteers aren't usually capable of providing extensive care (such as managing medicines or bathing), but often they can run errands, perform household chores, and provide companionship for an older adult for several hours a week. Also, many colleges have student employment centers where students list their availability to provide care for pay, usually at rates considerably lower than those of professional caregivers.
In-home care agencies. Most in-home care agencies offer different levels of care, including lower-cost companion care. Here's one way to find out about and compare in-home care agencies near you.