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Is It Time To Hire a Caregiver?

By Florence Mwamburi, July 15, 2016

Category: caregiving
Tags: Finding Caregivers, Tips, Aging, Senior Care

So you recently visited your mom or dad and noticed a few things weren’t quite right. Perhaps it was the empty fridge or unpaid bills lying on the table or the unusually excessive pile of dirty laundry or maybe it was the fact that they haven’t had a bath in months. Whatever the case, you no doubt left thinking “ok, I think it is time to hire a caregiver for mom and dad!”.

So what are the signs? Here are 12 tell-tale signs you may notice from your loved one:

  1. Becomes lost when driving in familiar areas but still insists on driving.
  2. Forgets to pay bills, something he or she was managing pretty well.
  3. Not recognizing the need to schedule necessary repairs around the house.
  4. Forgets or not recognizing the need to pick up mail.
  5. The trash is not disposed of.
  6. Not seeing the need to cook meals or misses to eat their meals. Outdated food is left in the refrigerator or in the cabinets for too long.
  7. Forgetting or not realizing the need to take care of personal hygiene such as wearing the same clothes daily, urine odor or poor oral hygiene.
  8. Forgetting to take medications and sometimes missing doses or overdosing by mistake. At times they call you to ask which medication they are supposed to take.
  9. Complete lack of interest in doing laundry or keeping the house clean.
  10. Has had a few falls and is unsteady on his/her feet. Going up the stairs becomes very difficult.
  11. Likes to sleep for long periods of time and is no longer interested in visiting friends and family or running usual errands or just reluctant to leave the house.
  12. Sometimes you notice the stove is left turned on and they do not exhibit the appropriate response for emergency situations.

You can start by actively looking for the signs. The danger with being passive is that the care that is eventually put in place (after a fall or hospitalization) may be done in a rush and has the potential of triggering a downward spiral on their health based on many different factors. Finding the right caregiver for any care need is vital in the healing process.

The Heart of a Caregiver


By Florence Furaha, July 28, 2015

Category: caregiving
Tags: caregivers,screening,home care,senior care

While working as a caregiver in college and now as the managing director of Meetcaregivers, I have had the opportunity to meet and speak to many caregivers. I have a lot of respect for their work and who they are as individuals. Most caregivers choose this career because they like caring for people and are very compassionate. It’s certainly not the type of work that you do to become rich. They do it because they like to provide daily assistance to seniors or individuals with disabilities. They want to make a difference in someone’s life.

Caregivers become like extended family members for many seniors. They assist them during a very sensitive moment in their lives. In addition to helping with daily activities such as bathing, bathroom functions, feeding, grooming, taking medication, and some housework, caregivers can also provide emotional support and companionship to many seniors. I was very close to all the seniors that I worked with. It’s a very rewarding experience to see that your work positively impacts someone’s life and makes their life easier or happier. It’s not an easy job like some people think. I always say, “Not everybody can be a caregiver.” It takes a special person to be a caregiver.

People often ask me what it takes to be a good caregiver. What type of training do I need to get? My answer is that it’s certainly very important to be a CNA (certified nursing assistant), HHA (home health aide), and learn how to work with individuals with dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s diseases. However, in addition to that, it’s very important to really be a caring person, a people person, to be patient and reliable.

During our screening process at Meetcaregivers, we look for caregivers with experience but who are also passionate about their work and understand the responsibilities that come with being a caregiver. We are not a job board where anyone can sign up. We want to go above and beyond to make sure that the caregivers in our network are individuals that we would hire to work for our own family members. I always tell our care recruiters that if you are screening a caregiver that you feel like you wouldn’t hire for your own aging mother or grandparents, then that person should not be in our network.

If you know a great caregiver looking to work with seniors or individuals with disabilities, please send them our way. If you are looking for an excellent caregiver for your loved one, please reach out. We are here to connect you with experienced and caring caregivers.

Free Home Care in Massachusetts


By Debbie Kenny, July 15, 2015

Category: resources
Tags: Free Home Care, Government Services, Elder Affairs, ASAPs, Aging Service Access Points, Resources, PCA Program, Medicaid, Subsidized Home Care

They say the best things in life are free, and in some cases that includes home care services.

Did you know that in Massachusetts the Executive Office of Elder Affairs provides free or subsidized home care services to 45,000 elders each month? These services are provided through twenty seven local Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) serving communities across Massachusetts. Subsidies are determined based on income level but, unlike Medicaid, assets such as savings or property are not a factor in determining eligibility.

The ASAPs provide case management, assess individual needs and eligibility for the program, and contract with other agencies and organizations to provide a wide variety of services for seniors 60 years or older, or individuals under 60 with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and in need of respite services.

The program provides services based on functional impairment levels and critical unmet needs, including help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, continence, transferring, and mobility.

Homemaker, companion, personal care, supportive home care aides, and home health are among the available services. Seniors may be able to get help with laundry, chores, transportation, home delivered meals, grocery shopping/delivery, medical transportation, and medication dispensing. The program also can help fund supportive day care, dementia day care, and day health programs as well as respite care to provide relief for family caregivers. If you or your loved one needs personal emergency response, a wanderer locator, adaptive housing/equipment, vision rehabilitation, habilitation therapy, behavioral health counseling, or even emergency shelter, the ASAP in your area should be your first call.

For 2015, income guidelines require Annual Gross Income less than $26,561 for a single person and $37,581 for a couple, but if your income exceeds these levels it’s worth calling to see what income should be counted. MassHealth members are financially eligible. The income limits rise every year by the Social Security cost of living allowance. For details on income levels and co-payment amounts, go to MassGov

Meetcaregivers is working with the ASAPS to help families connect with these services. Contact Meetcaregivers at info@Meetcaregivers.com or visit our website, www.meetcaregivers.com. You can also reach the ASAP in your area through the Massachusetts Home Care program, just call 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636) from your home phone and press one. You will be connected with the ASAP in your zip code area. Or visit www.800ageinfo.com and click on “Find your regional Elder Care Agency.”

Meetcaregivers One of 128 Most Promising Startups Selected for MassChallenge 2015 Accelerator in Boston


By The Meetcaregivers Team, May 27, 2015

Category: press release
Tags: Entrepreneurship, Startups, Home Care, Health Care Innovation, MassChallenge, Social Impact

Local Company Helping Seniors to Age at Home will Gain Access to Expert Mentors, Industry Resources, and a Robust Startup Community

Meetcaregivers, Inc., a Newton-based startup helping families find in-home caregivers for their aging loved ones at up to 50% less than the cost of traditional agencies, will gain access to expert mentors and industry resources as part of the robust startup community participating in the four-month MassChallenge 2015 accelerator program in Boston this summer. The company joins a group of 128 finalists in Boston selected from more than 1,600 applicants. The finalist companies will compete for more than $1.75 million in cash awards and more than $10 million in-kind support.

“We are excited to have been selected to participate in MassChallenge 2015,” said Florence Furaha, Meetcaregivers CEO. “We are ready to scale and are confident that participating in MassChallenge will help us gain the contacts, visibility, and support we need to grow the business and help more seniors age at home.”

Chosen as one of 28 startups in the “social impact” category in Boston, Meetcaregivers is helping to make it easier and more affordable for the growing senior population to age in the comfort of their own home rather than move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. The company is also helping caregivers find independent work assignments and earn better wages than what they would typically make working for a traditional home healthcare agency.

About Meetcaregivers:
Meetcaregivers.com uses online and video technology to help families safely find and connect with qualified caregivers for their aging loved ones at up to 50% less than the cost of traditional agencies. Families can go to www.meetcaregivers.com and watch one to three-minute videos of caregivers in their area talking about their experience, skills, background and availability. The videos help families get to know the caregivers before scheduling interviews. Easier and safer than job boards such as Craigslist and Care.com, Meetcaregivers pre-screens the caregivers and handles payments and insurance, so families never have to worry.

About MassChallenge:
MassChallenge runs startup accelerators designed to catalyze a global renaissance by connecting high-impact startups with the resources they need to launch and succeed. Anyone can apply to MassChallenge, with any early-stage startup, in any industry, from anywhere in the world. MassChallenge does not take equity or place any restrictions on the startups it supports.

With programs in Boston, Israel and the UK, MassChallenge provides entrepreneurs with mentorship, office space, education, access to a vast network, and other resources during four months of acceleration. MassChallenge awards over $1.75 million in non-dilutive grants to the startups demonstrating the highest impact and highest potential. A nonprofit organization, MassChallenge is funded by corporate, public and foundation partners. To date, the 617 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $950 million in funding, generated $486 million in revenue and created 5,104 jobs. For more information, visit www.masschallenge.org.

Top MassChallenge Boston partners include: Jamestown, Fidelity Investments, Verizon, the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, CASIS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Deshpande Foundation, The Biscay Government, The Boston Foundation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, Bühler, American Airlines, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bose, EMC, Henkel, iNNpulsa Colombia, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Smith & Nephew, Thomson Reuters, Turnstone, WGBH Boston, UMass Amherst, and Zapopan.

For more information, visit www.meetcaregivers.com, call 1-888-541-1136 or e-mail info@Meetcaregivers.com.

The Challenges of Self-Directed Home Care

By Debbie Kenny, April 22, 2015

Category: Caregiving
Tags: Self-Directed Home Care, Choices, Options for Seniors, Senior Care, Home Care, Government Programs, Medicaid, PCA Program, MassHealth

Self-directed home care refers to the ability of seniors and people with illnesses or disabilities to choose and control their own home care providers, including having the decision-making authority to recruit, hire, train, and supervise individual caregivers.

For those receiving assistance in Massachusetts through the MassHealth/Medicaid PCA program or Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs Home Care program, consumers have the right to self-direction. They can hire their own caregivers and receive services, paid by the Commonwealth, to help them get set up as household employers with the IRS and Department of Revenue. Fiscal intermediaries help them obtain workers compensation insurance and handle employer responsibilities such as managing payroll, withholding taxes, and paying into the unemployment insurance system. Even with these supports, though, the challenges of being an employer and withholding and filing taxes correctly can be daunting, particularly at tax time.

People self-directing their care on these programs also often receive little help with finding qualified, pre-screened caregivers. They can access a list of potential caregivers with contact information, but they are mostly on their own to make calls, screen caregivers, and determine which potential caregivers are qualified, will be a good fit, and are willing to work for the wages allowed by these programs. The process can be time consuming and stressful.

We get calls regularly from seniors and people with disabilities who are looking to select and manage their own caregivers through these public assistance programs, but need help finding the right person who has the necessary skills and qualifications and is willing to work for the wages allowed. Currently the available self-directed programs do not have processes in place to pay for our services --even though the overall cost would be less than when using a full service agency.

Families that need additional hours beyond those provided through state programs, however, can benefit from the convenience and cost savings of selecting their caregivers from our network of qualified, pre-screened PCAs, home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and homemakers.

With Meetcaregivers, families get maximum choice and control and can direct their own care without the hassles, complexities, and long term commitments that come with being set up as a household employer. Families that choose self-direction can quickly and easily find pre-screened, qualified caregivers. They can hire, fire, train, schedule, and supervise their own caregivers, but avoid the hassles and complexities of directly employing the caregivers or worrying about insurance and tax withholdings. And they can still save significant money off the cost of a traditional full service agency.

We are hoping to work with Department of Elder Affairs to make this option a reality for families choosing self-direction through publicly funded programs.

The Power of Self-Directed Home Care

By Debbie Kenny, April 13, 2015

Category: Caregiving
Tags: Choices, Home Care, Government Programs, Medicaid, Medicare, Cost of Home Care

Finding home care can be a stressful process – especially after a fall, surgery, or other incident when nerves are on edge and families need to find and agree on a solution fast. Hospitals and rehabilitation centers have outplacement counselors who can help, but they are often carrying a large workload and may not take the time to really listen to individual needs and preferences or offer a variety of options for care. In fact, many hospitals own their own homecare companies, or work with a few preferred home care partners. It is easier, and sometimes financially in the organization’s best interest, to direct patients to the same tried and true home care agencies, rather than offering a variety of different, potentially less expensive options.

When my eighty-four-year-old father had cardiac by-pass surgery, the hospital gave him the name of a visiting nurse association to call for home care. He called the number and arranged for the services he needed. Only after he became very unhappy with the care he received did it occur to him that he might have a choice about the home health organization to use. He called his insurance company and found out that, yes, he did not have to use that company and could choose a provider he preferred.

There are two potential problems with this type of provider-directed approach to home care. 1.) Traditional home care agencies can be very expensive. If insurance isn’t covering the whole bill, families can quickly run out of money to pay for the care they need. 2.) Some people want more choice and control over their own care. They want to choose their individual caregivers, decide what level of care and services they need, and manage how and when their care is provided. Doing so allows them to feel more in control and ensures that their individual preferences and needs will be met.

Self-direction gives seniors and people with disabilities the power to choose to stay at home, decide what care they need, and select, hire, manage and fire their own caregivers or service providers as they see fit. Having more choice in their care helps them feel more in control and ensures that their individual preferences and needs will be met.

For those receiving services through Medicaid (MassHealth) or the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs Home Care program, consumers have the right to self-direction, and can receive services, paid by the Commonwealth, to help them get set up as employers, obtain worker compensation insurance, and handle payroll for the hours of care paid through the program.

If you are looking to reduce the cost of home care, or you would prefer to find, hire, and manage your own caregivers and their schedules, self-directed home care may be the right option for you. Be sure to ask about your options and know your rights.

For more information,
- contact your Aging Services Access Point at 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636) or
- visit Medicaid.Gov

Why Enroll Your Aging Parent in an Adult Day Program

By Florence Furaha, April 1, 2015

Category: resources
Tags: Adult Day Care, Senior Care, Options, Engagement, Community

Since we launched Meetcaregivers, we have met many families who are looking for solutions to enable their aging parents to stay at home as long as possible rather than moving them to a nursing home.

Many wonder how they can keep their loved one at home, but also still engaged with the outside world. Families can hire a caregiver through Meetcaregivers.com and still enroll their loved one in an adult day program for a few hours a day, one or two days per week. The day program will enable them to socialize with a group of people for a few hours and also receive dedicated, quality care and companionship with their private caregiver when they are at home.

Different day programs charge different rates. Prices typically range from $25 to $120 per day. Each day program has its own planned program of services and activities. These services may include exercising, education, counseling, socialization, medication management, recreation, transportation, meals and much more.

There are certainly many other ways that you can keep your parents engaged in the outside world. Caregivers can also accompany their clients to senior center activities, meals out with friends, shopping trips, or other outings and activities.

I am a big fan of day programs for seniors. They enable seniors to socialize with others but also provide the necessary care services and companionship at home. A senior doesn’t have to attend every day. You can work out a schedule that works best for you and your loved one.

For more information about adult day programs in Massachusetts visit www.800ageinfo.com and select “Search for services,” call 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636), or contact your local senior center, council on aging, or Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) for your area.

10 Bests States to Grow Old In

By Florence Furaha, March 17, 2015

Category: statistics
Tags: Best States, Aging, Senior Care, Senior Services

I came across an article of 24/7 Wall St. over the weekend that was very encouraging. According to the article, Massachusetts is among the 10 best states to grow old in. It would be better if we were the best state, but at least we are not among the worst states to grow old in such as Mississippi or West Virginia.

Actually, a few New England States were listed among the best States (Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire). According to the article, this was attributed to the fact that Massachusetts and its neighboring states have a very strong health care system and the policies are very favorable to seniors, enabling more accessibility to senior services.

I live in Newton and I am very proud of the work that the Newton Senior Center does to reach out to local seniors and connect them to services that they need.

Here is a quick look at statistics that differentiate Massachusetts from Mississippi, the state the article names as the worst to grow old in.

I am a big fan of day programs for seniors. They enable seniors to socialize with others but also provide the necessary care services and companionship at home. A senior doesn’t have to attend every day. You can work out a schedule that works best for you and your loved one.

Median Household Income Age 65+: $40,020 (15th highest) vs. $29,511 (the lowest)

Percentage 65+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: 29.2% (7th highest) vs. 18.2% (6th lowest)

Violent Crime Rate per 100,000 Residents: 404.0 (16th highest) vs. 267.4 (18th lowest)

Percentage 65+ with a Disability: 34.1% (10th lowest) vs. 45.1% (2nd highest)

The higher median income and education levels, coupled with a lower crime rate and policies that make services accessible to seniors can help keep seniors happier, healthier and safer as they age. It looks like, in Massachusetts, we’re doing this a little better than most.

Read more: The Best States to Grow Old In - 24/7 Wall St.

10 Tips for Finding the Perfect Caregiver for Your Aging Parents

By Florence Furaha, October 28, 2014

Category: Caregiving
Tags: Screening, Finding Caregivers, Tips, Aging, Senior Care

At Meetcaregivers, we believe families are the best people to know which caregiver will be the best match for their loved ones. It’s not just about finding a companion, housekeeper, personal care attendant (PCA), home health aide (HHA) or certified nursing assistant (CNA) that has the perfect qualifications and skills, but also someone who will be a good fit and get along with your loved one and also with the family. Here are our 10 things to do and look for:

1) Know and assess what you are looking for. What do you exactly want the caregiver to do? List all the duties and responsibilities.

2) Look for someone that has the right qualifications. Know if you need someone with experience with special care such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or transfers.

3) Know the qualities that you are looking for in a caregiver. Will you and your senior parents be more comfortable with someone who is extroverted, talkative, opinionated, or has a strong sense of humor, or are you looking for someone who is more introverted, quiet, patient, or easy going?

4) Know if this is a part time or full time position. Be clear on the days and hours that you want the caregiver to work. Caregivers may have other obligations or rely on the work you offer for their income, so they usually need a consistent schedule they can count on. If you need flexibility, make sure that is clear upfront.

5) Be comfortable with what you want to pay per hour. Understand that caregivers often charge more when working for fewer hours.

6) Interview at least 2 to 3 caregivers so that you will have a good sense of your options and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the caregiver you select.

7) Communicate with the caregivers about the job expectations and responsibilities, and make sure they are capable and willing to do tasks you require such as bathing, driving, cooking, housekeeping, and errands. Some caregivers will cheerfully do all of these tasks, while others may prefer to limit their work to companionship, personal care, or work within the home.

8) Provide important information to caregivers such as what your loved one likes or dislikes to do, wear, or eat. Be sure your caregiver has easy access to a list of emergency contacts, an updated list of medications, and the dates, times, and locations of any scheduled activities or appointments.

9) Keep the lines of communication open once you hire a caregiver. The more you understand each other’s expectations and needs, the easier it will be to provide the best care for your parents.

10) Plan for a backup caregiver. What will happen if your caregiver is sick or can’t come to work? Be sure your caregivers knows what they must do to notify you of their absence, and what you will do to be sure someone is there to care for your parents.

The Difference between a PCA, HHS, and CNA

By Florence Furaha, February 11, 2014

Category: caregiving
Tags: CNA, HHA, PCA, Certified Nursing Assistant, Home Health Aide, Personal Care Assistant

When it comes time to hire a caregiver for your aging family member, to make sure that your loved one receives the best care it’s important to know the difference between a Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Home Health Aide (HHA), and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

PCAs, HHAs, and CNAs all work with seniors and disabled patients on a daily basis. They help with every day homemaking and companion care activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, toileting, moving around, running errands, and performing light housekeeping tasks.

However there is a difference between PCAs, HHAs, and CNAs.

PCAs: There is no training requirement for a PCA. A PCA provides care at home and helps with tasks such as bathing, shopping, homemaking and running errands. On average a PCA makes about $9-13/hour.

HHAs: In Massachusetts, there is training provided for HHAs, although requirements vary by state. HHAs provide personal care at home, including in private homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, group homes, or other transitional housing. Many Community colleges and vocational schools provide HHA Training or have an HHA component in their CNA training programs. On average an HHA makes about $9-13/hour.

CNAs: Unlike PCAs and HHAs, CNAs may work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) to perform medical-related tasks such as taking vital signs, changing dressings, cleaning catheters, controlling infections, and administering treatments. While HHAs work specifically with patients at home, CNAs may also work at hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, day care centers, and skilled nursing facilities. In Massachusetts, CNAs must complete a state-approved training, which includes the HHA training. On average, CNA wages are slightly higher than for an HHA. In Massachusetts a CNA makes about $12-$15/hour.

The choice of using a PCA, HHA, or CNA depends on the level of the patient’s care and medical needs. If you are not sure, it is a good idea to get an evaluation and recommendation from an independent care manager or other qualified professional before making a hiring decision. You can also contact us with any questions (1-888-541-1136)

Want to Hire a Geriatric Care Manager?

By Florence Furaha, March 18, 2014

Category: resources
Tags: Care Management, Senior Care, Senior Resources, Geriatric Social Worker, Geriatric Nurse

Many families wonder if hiring a geriatric care manager is worth it and what do they really do?

To help answer this question, I am going to describe the role of geriatric care managers and what they do in general, so that you can decide if your family might benefit from their services.

A geriatric care manager provides assistance to families with aging parents by coordinating care and finding resources and services that their loved ones need. They oversee many things for families such as providing guidance with federal and state benefits applications, overseeing home health aides, and vetting nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and assistant living facilities.

Geriatric care managers are generally social workers, nurses, gerontologists, and counselors. They are very helpful to long distance family members or anyone who needs help with caring for a loved one with dementia or complex healthcare issues. Many can also help with day to day task such as making sure bills are paid, taking aging loved ones to doctor’s appointments, and so on.

You can hire a geriatric care manager via an agency or privately. Medicaid and Medicare do not pay for geriatric care managers. They are mostly paid privately, using out-of-pocket money, or through long term care insurance. Hourly rates can range from $100-250, but you may not need a lot of hours to get the advice you need. Geriatric care management services are definitely not cheap but may be worth it to provide peace of mind and ensure that your loved ones are getting the care they need.

There is no doubt that hiring a geriatric care manager, for those who can afford it, can help make taking care of an aging loved one easier and less stressful—especially for families that live far away or don’t have the time or expertise to manage their loved ones’ care on their own.