Carmel, CA Make Sure That Caregivers In Your Home Are Licensed, Bonded And Insured : Financial Elder Abuse Continues To Growby Richard Kuehn on 08/18/12
I have written before on my blog about the importance of getting caregivers for yourself or a loved one that are licensed, bonded and insured. Unfortunately, as USA Today pointed out this week, financial elder abuse continues to grow. "There is no silver bullet that will end the financial abuse of America's seniors," Don Blandin, president and CEO of the non-profit Investor Protection Trust (IPT) told a reporter. The company released a survey this week which found the most common type of elder abuse comes from family members who are caring for a relative and steal or divert funds or property. The second most common is unrelated caregivers stealing from the elderly. Some of these deplete the entire life savings of these seniors. Sadly, we have seen it happen many times here on the Monterey Peninsula. MetLife has estimated that elderly victims of financial abuse lost at least $2.9 billion in 2010, up from $2.6 billion in 2008. 20% of Americans over the age of 65 have been a victim of a financial swindle, according to IPT. Thankfully, help is on the way. The Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation (EIFFFE) prevention program has trained more than 3,000 health care professionals to spot fraud which may be happening. It is a huge problem. One problem those seeking in home care don't often realize is the risk of hiring a caregiver through a referral service or a quasi-employment agency which is somewhere in the middle. These can cause headaches for the senior or their family hiring a caregiver through such a company. Since I have opened Family inHome Caregiving, myriad competitors have opened their doors. Many haven't done very well for a number of reasons. Some aren't local and the community here is weary of hiring an out of towner via an 800 number. Others don't train or screen their caregivers well and still others simply don't have the financial wherewithal to make it through all of the marketing and start-up costs associated with starting a company like mine. One recent company which came into town with a big marketing splash has a unique business model, a colleague told me. They hire independent contractors and therefore the burden of paying self employment taxes falls to the employee. The company isn't technically an employer and therefore they don't have to pay Social Security taxes, Medicare contributions, unemployment insurance, workers compensation insurance, etc. Such a business model is fraught with risk for the independent contractor (the caregiver), the company which is paying the contractor, as well as the senior who has the caregiver working in their home. This person isn't licensed, bonded and insured and a slip and fall case or theft could completely wipe the senior out. When hiring a caregiver, make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured, particularly if the person being cared for has Alzheimer's disease or dementia. These are the easiest targets. We have bonding which is 4x the amount of most of our caregivers. Thankfully, we have never had to tap this insurance for a theft case, but it's nice to know that it's there, both for us and for the client. Regular readers of my blog know that I am a big supporter of the Alzheimer's Association, which has a 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900. They are also the largest private supporter of Alzheimer's research in the United States. Please help them with their important mission if you can by clicking on this link for Family inHome Caregiving fundraising site for Alzheimer's Association.