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Are non-professional non-family caregivers a common thing? My mother, who lives in a senior apartment (in another state from me), has an acquaintance helping her with shopping and driving to doctor appointments. My mom knew this person's now-deceased father but has known her for only a short time. From what I can tell, she has no set rates for services, and is neither bonded nor insured. This person apparently provides such services for several people in the senior complex. Should I be concerned?

c47090 is correct. Some agencies such as Visiting Angels set their own standard a little hire than the state recommendation when it comes to Caregiver qualification and screening. They will request for shot records, driving records, background checks, provide General Liability Bond as well as Workers comp insurance for caregivers, and they have zero tolerance for unprofessional caregivers thus the high turnover. But it's always better to be safe than sorry especially when willingly inviting a total stranger into the privacy of your home. Do your due diligence.
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Reply to HomecareHouston
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GardenArtist is right -- liability and insurance are important things to consider for anyone doing this on a regular basis. Look what's happened to Dorker's brother (hired? a 17 y/o to go up in a bucket truck to do tree work; hit a power line and now the boy is in a hospital bed after being burned and losing both legs above the knee -- even if he has an umbrella liability policy, coverage for the accident could be voided if the machinery was not operated according to instructions, which could mean no operators under 18, no operation near power lines, etc.)!
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Reply to CTTN55
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I hate to be a "wet blanket", but if the woman is paid being, her services might be construed as being "for hire", putting her in a professional driver category. That raises the issue of her liability for accidents, as well as possibly a commercial driver's license.
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May I just add...not to add to the concerns and paranoia...but you can only do so much. For instance, in my role I at time am in a hiring position...I'm the one the applicants have to get past, and my attitude is they better be good enough to take care of my own family...and I mean it. Yes, we check references, for relevant and steady work history, and if offered the job, in our state (OH), a criminal background check is required, both FBI and BCI. So that means there is nothing in their PAST, but it doesn't mean something could not happen in the future. So here I am, also in a caregiving role, and I have often considered having someone in...although my mother would most likely fight us on it...but the thought of someone being in the house unsupervised is unsettling to ME. We're so overwhelmed and preoccupied I'm afraid if something were to go missing, would we notice? And sometimes it can be something small that isn't noticed for months. My aunt lives in an assisted living with housekeepers on the staff. When my aunt was in rehab someone (with some suspicion by management/history becoming known) got into her unit and stole some items. So if you have anything of value I'd get a locking box (a big one so it can't be slipped out) and/or give the valuables to another family member.
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Reply to gdaughter
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Yes, be very concerned. She can be a friend, but not provide services. There are insurance liability issues. Use a company that provides a variety of services (Visiting Angels comes to mind, but there are many). These people are screened, insured, etc.
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Reply to c47090
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My late aunt had a gal who is non-professional take her places and run errands for her. They would always use my Aunt's car. She was the younger sister of her son's best friend. So, she was known to family. The accident issue never came up. She was a great friend to my aunt and really helped her when she couldn't drive anymore. Oh, she was paid, I don't know how much.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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We used an LPN who worked a week pro bono for us until I could arrive to take care of my mother. I had many conversations with this woman and I found it strange when she asked "Why do you use a computer?" and "Don't you think that your mother had a T.I.A.?" My responses="I'm very surprised that you DON'T use a computer since you run a business as a caregiver for elders at night in a 12-hour shift." and "No, my mother had a full blown ischemic stroke."
So let me just say that I was glad that we didn't have to use this woman, who my late mother knew, longer than a week.

My mother also had a cleaning girl. This girl was hired originally to do a 3 hour shift each Monday. Then her boss called my late mother and said "We're cutting Melissa's hours from 3 hours down to 1 hour." Now mind you, I was lucky to find out this information when my mother let it slip. HOWEVER, Melissa was cheating my mother from the get-go! She never worked 3 hours! She never worked 1 hour! She skipped out after 40 minutes. And not only did she clog up my mother's vacuum cleaner as she did not know how to empty it, but she also left my mother's clothes in the dryer for a week! She also almost caused a fire in the dryer, which was detected by my when I found 5 dryer sheets stuck to the air vent.
My mother had a bookkeeper. She did not balance my mom's checkbook for 9 months! She was off to the tune of $859 for NINE MONTHS! My mother's response ="She'll get it on month number 10." I said "No, she is done; she either balances on month numer 1 or she adds or subtracts."
I added the above after what Robinr wrote.  Elders are prime targets for scam artists!
Beware though-scary when an elder like my late mother liked the socialization with this people even though they were not performing their jobs to any level of functionality! My mother was just fine with it! Say what??!!
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Longplay53, I think you're doing the right thing by following the old adage of "trust but verify," e.g. monitoring your mother's accounts and keeping in touch. You might want to internet search any court records for your mother's helper as wally003 has done and do other cursory background checks, just to be on the safe side. Obviously, dishonest people come in all forms, relatives or not, licensed or not. A cousin of my wife's aunt was helping her aunt -- turned out she also helped herself to about $25,000 in small increments over a few months before a bank employee got suspicious and alerted the police. Definitely get your POA status verified for your protection as well as your mom's.
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Reply to bicycler
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You should be aware...that it is a ripe opportunity for someone to gain access, influence, theft...but it would for a paid caregiver as well--with paid you have some oversight though, someone to hold accountable, someone to at least assure you that a background check has been done and that the past is clear (but no one can predict the future...there's only so much you can do). Sometimes this starts off as sort of a friendship...sort of a "senior helping senior". And make no mistake...it CAN be a very good thing...but be aware even in the best of circumstances it can create some awkwardness...the person MAY expect to be compensated. It is often like work...it IS work. And of course, no, a "friend/acquaintance" would not be bonded or insured. But many seniors are capable and functional; they welcome company, being needed having something to do, and if they can do that while helping someone, so much the better. There is no easy answer to this...Certainly in the best of circumstances one would want to convey their appreciation...a gas card, restaurant gift card...If you are uncomfortable with this (is the person a safe driver??) you might want to contact the local city hall/office on aging/even the building management to get a referral so you can set mom up with rides/transportation. Often you may get resources via the local Area Agency On Aging website.
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Reply to robinr
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My cousin who is still able to live on her own has hired a lady that at 1st was just helping keep her apartment clean and helping get ready for a move. She's become so much more for her, taking her shopping and getting her out for appointments. What a godsend since the only family are myself and another cousin and we both live 3 hours away. Before this lady started helping my cousin was basically house bound and now they are out a couple times a week. When going out they use my cousin's car.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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My mom has non-professionals that care for her. We started out with agency. One CNA (professional of 20 years) swindled a check from my mom & forged her signature, another CNA had been arrested for assault (I googled these people & found out myself) and pain pills were always missing. These people would leave mom unattended for hours (she’s pretty much helpless) and not notify anyone. The agency was fired. They were a complete nightmare! The “non-professionals” have never, ever left her and meds have not been missing. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s worked MUCH better. Mom’s money will run out soon & she will have to enter a NH. She would’ve already been there a long time ago had we been paying an agency $18.00 an hour these last 2 years, yet these ladies make more than the agency staff.
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Reply to mollymoose
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My mother fortunately has a wonderful lady from church who takes time out of her busy week 2-3 times a week to take mom lunch; buy her groceries and takes her to doctor/hair appointment! We've become friends because of her relationship and loving attitude toward my mother! I even gave her a credit card to use on mom's behalf (for groceries, hair appointments, etc.) I found out early on that she is completely trustworthy and is the most wonderful person I've ever met. Every now and then you find a jewel...this lady is an angel as far as I'm concerned.

Mom has a lot of mental problems and was abusive toward me last Summer - I can't be around her much as we end up arguing just about every time -her words are hurtful and she has dementia so doesn't remember much about her circumstances. Some days are good some are not...last week she was really far out there - this week better - but more critical of nice people who want to help her...it's very hard to deal with...but the answer to your question is 'YES' wonderful people are out there! When there are such people appreciate them for all their worth.

I also send this wonderful caring lady a check every month - it's far from enough to reimburse her for her time/caring - but it's the best we can do and it hopefully gives her a little spending money that she otherwise would not have.
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Reply to SueGeo
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Thanks for the answer, all. As with a few other posts here, I'm asking primarily to confirm my own thoughts, which run toward being trusting of people. It's my sister who is suspicious of everyone, imagining anyone who helps our mother as someone who will steal her money. She is also insistent on a helper being licensed and, if she talks to mom about medical issues, an expert in medicine. Of course, neither of us as children have such expertise either, and in addition, live far from our mom.

While I have a few concerns, I will likely constrain my actions to monitoring her checking accounts on line and just keeping in touch. I supposedly still have POA but have no documentation for that and will ask her about it.
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Reply to Longplay53
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I used 3 such companions. I never had them drive my L.O. anywhere as it wasn't needed. My friends had many that fit this description serve as aides, both live in and occasional. We've not had problems. Possibly VERY lucky but we did have good references on all of them.
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Reply to geewiz
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If the person had a car accident, the insurance issue might become prickly if he/she hadn't told the insurance company the car is used to make money.

I've though on and off about taking other elders on grocery trips with my mother, and charging them. But the thought of being in an accident while with them makes me shudder!
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Reply to CTTN55
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I have such a person, non-family, non-professional helper who drives and takes my mom out couple of times a week. I pay her a reasonabl fee and she is happy. My mother is happy. I am happy to get a break. My children are happy to get a break from crazy grandmother.

I am so glad to have her help.
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Reply to polarbear
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I would be a little worried, but that's just me.
some people aren't so honest. I don't know what you could really do tho.
besides some sort of background check.
I know I have gone to my county courts website and ive looked up arrest records, probate records etc.
you sound concerned since you are here asking...
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Reply to wally003
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There is someone such as this where my mother is. If I am out of town she is available generally. She has lots of tips regarding doctors etc. I generally take my mother to all appointments but if I really cant this person is generally available and has a very nice disposition.
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Reply to Riverdale
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You don't have to be certified to take someone shopping or to dr. appts. I think its a great way to make extra money. As long as her rate is agreed upon by both parties, no problem. I would only be concerned if she took advantage of LO like asking for a loan.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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