Caregiving for an Elderly Parent

Using independent caregivers or an agency to help elderly parent.

Adult children face important decisions as they help elderly parents remain safe. Caregiving for an elderly parent is near the top of the list because of expense and its impact on an older person’s independence.

There are two general approaches to take when setting up caregiving services for an elderly parent. These are identifying an independent caregiver or hiring a caregiving agency. Here are the pros and cons of both approaches.

Hiring Independent Caregiver(s) to Provide Care for an Elderly Parent

There are a range of people who work independently in providing non-medical services to the elderly, such as meal preparation, transportation, companionship, light housekeeping, etc. There are also people who provide medical services, such as bathing, feeding, and medication management.


Using independent caregivers provides more flexibility in choosing the person(s) to provide the service and the type of services offered. It can also be less expensive to bring on an independent caregiver than using an agency. An adult child of an elderly parent can develop a personal relationship with the caregiver, which can encourage commitment.


There is often financial and legal liability related to the use of independent caregivers. Either the adult child or the elderly parent are an “employer” of the caregiver, which requires payment of payroll taxes when wages surpass $2,400 annually. Unemployment taxes are also required when wages exceed $1,500 annually. Evidence of the caregiver’s ability to work in the U.S. is also required.

Most caregivers do not carry liability or workers’ compensation insurance and do not provide their own background screenings. Therefore, you, as an employer, are required to have it.

We mentioned earlier in this post that hiring an independent caregiver is often less expensive. This is because many people choose not to pay for the taxes, insurance coverages, and background screenings. This might seem OK since caregivers are such nice people. Right? Actually, you are taking a huge chance by not doing so. It is breaking the law not to pay taxes owed and if the caregiver steals something or becomes injured, you or your elderly parent are responsible.

Hiring an Agency to Provide Care for an Elderly Parent

There are a variety of agencies that provide non-medical and medical in-home or institutional care for the elderly.


Agencies can be expensive (up to $20+ per hour), but pay all payroll and unemployment taxes, verify the caregiver’s ability to work in the U.S., and provide liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Agencies also background screen their caregivers. In addition, if the caregiver is not performing at quality standards, the agency will usually replace her upon request.


There are contractual requirements that can be burdensome. These include service deposits, length of time commitments, notice for discontinuing service, etc. The cost of services can also add up. Agencies handle what caregiver arrives for services, so you may have different people coming to the home. This can disrupt an elderly person’s sense of security and safety.


There is no straightforward answer to the use of individual caregivers or agencies. The adult child and/or the elderly parent need to consider all issues and make an informed choice. Here is information offered by AARP than can help in this process. Click Here.

If you want to arm yourself with the information needed to motivate an elderly parent or friend to remain active and exercise, take a look at this new e-book by clicking here.

Learn more about blog creator Steven Watson’s background related to helping elderly people remain active and safe by clicking here to access his Amazon Author’s Page.

Check out an related earlier post that addresses care planning for an elderly parent.

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