Companies offer new model for choosing caregiver
The emergency arrived when Jenna Lynn Schoeneman's father failed to pass his driver's test.
He was 89, and determined to continue to drive. But after retaking the test six times without a stamp of approval, “he was crushed,” and Schoeneman had a problem that needed solving fast. How was she going to get her father in Fort Myers, Fla., to everything — including doctor's appointments and the grocery store — when she lived almost 1,300 miles away in Chicago?
Being at his side was no option for the 57-year-old attorney with two children and a husband. She is a classic member of the sandwich generation, juggling the logistics, money demands and angst of caring for children, a job and an aging parent simultaneously.
Although Schoeneman's father was swimming in the ocean each day, he was bruised from frequent falls and was having increasing difficulty staying on top of bills. Assisted living was out of the question, Schoeneman said. Her father had always been king of the household, and “he wasn't about to give up easily.”
Schoeneman solved the problem by turning to one of the websites that are springing up — companies such as Carelinx and CareFamily.com. They give people around the country a place to go to find a caregiver even when they are hundreds of miles away.
For seniors with greater needs, the CareFamily site will provide names of nurses or nursing assistants. Some caregivers can be live-in, providing 24-hour care. Others work hourly. The firm has registered caregivers in 23 states and is expanding into new areas.
The companies, which incorporate some of the features of dating service Match.com, allows people to go online and find a “match” for a parent. Schoeneman was looking for a companion, or a person who could help her father a couple of days a week — driving him to appointments, drugstores and grocery stores, and sorting through paperwork for bills while doing some light housekeeping.
The match was a former hairdresser in her 60s, who had moved to Fort Myers to be close to her son and grandson and “was looking for something to do” a few hours a week, Schoeneman said. Her father chose the former hairdresser after interviewing two of five potential candidates suggested by CareFamily.
Tom Knox, founder of CareFamily, says he does background checks on each caregiver, provides a list to families, and the family then interviews people and makes a choice.
Families employ the individual rather than contracting with an agency that selects caregivers. But CareFamily deals with withholding tax and other paperwork that can be a headache to handle. Without the administration of a typical home health care agency, Knox says families can often get a caregiver at a lower price and caregivers make more money than they would likely take home if they were working for a typical agency.
The average cost nationally for a caregiver from an agency is about $21 to $22 an hour, or a shocking $7,900 a month if care is needed 12 hours a day. Knox says his caregivers average $12 to $14 an hour.
At CareFamily, however, the family members are free to offer the hourly rate they think is appropriate early in the matching process. Whatever the hourly rate, $2 an hour goes to CareFamily.
Gail MarksJarvis is a personal finance columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nutritional supplement makers, led by GNC, want to create voluntary safety standards
- Smartphones expected to overtake desktops for holiday shopping
- Many Black Friday deals not worth the hassle
- Take steps to make it harder for holiday hackers
- Union leaders warn Post-Gazette newsroom of possible layoffs
- Signs of steady U.S. economy: Pay, home sales up, unemployment applications down
- Covestro leader MacCleary finds stability amid change
- Existing-home sales fall 3.4% in October
- Stocks finish flat before Thanksgiving holiday; energy firms give back some gains
- Mall stores required to open for Thanksgiving
- New rules proposed for high-speed traders