The Sage Connection

Seniors: Need help at home?

Scams targeting seniors abound, but there are reliable providers and methods to keep you safe.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Senior Services of South Sound continues to offer help.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Senior Services of South Sound continues to offer help.
Danny Stusser photo

Do you know or have a frail elderly family member in need of help in their home?

Finding help can be a daunting task even with someone you trust to help you navigate the internet. Scam artists abound and some are quite sophisticated in their approach.

Area Agency on Aging

There are some reliable standbys in your corner, however, and Chelsea Carter is one of them. Carter works for the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Home Care Referral Registry, as their Program Coordinator.

“A” seems to be a very popular letter, with several companies and non-profits using some version or combination thereof, so let me make clear which one I am referring too.

The AAA was established under the Federal Older Americans Act in 1973 to help older adults (60 or older) remain in their home. AAAs are located throughout the United States and are available in every county within Washington State.

Help can range from getting services for a frail adult so he/she can remain at home to providing access to activities and socialization through programs like senior centers.  Their contact information is:

Home Care Referral Registry

Now, back to the Home Care Referral Registry for Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties. As explained before, the mission of this program is to help frail elders remain in their home. Care Providers are recruited, interviewed and trained by the AAA. The potential providers must pass a background check every two years to remain under contract to the AAA. When their training is complete, they receive a Home Care Aide Certificate from the Washington Department of Health. They can then be introduced to potential clients and if both parties are agreeable, hired.

Care providers’ duties can run a wide gambit of possibilities -- everything from meal preparation, grocery shopping, errands, housekeeping and laundry, to rides to doctor’s offices and social outings. Reminding clients to take their medication and varying levels of personal care can also be involved.

Anything involving skilled nursing is not included. “Care Providers’ ages range from 18 to their 80’s," explained Carter, and are paid directly by the state at no cost to the client.

The catch? This program is only for low-income seniors and the disabled. You must be on Medicaid to qualify. For more information on how to apply for a care provider position or obtain in-home help, call Carter at 360-664-3162, ext. 143.

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, but have some form of Medicare Gap insurance, higher personal income, or family financial help, the choices for in-home help are many. Some specialize in varying levels of dementia care, or household assistance. 

Senior Care Connection

Another option is the South Sound Senior Services Care Connection which provides people of all ages with an affordable, trusted and reliable place to turn to when needing a variety of assistance – companionship, personal care support, dementia-specific needs, personal assistance, end of life care and more. This program is offered on a sliding scale based on income. To reach Care Connection call 360-586-6181 ext. 136.

Senior Services' Client Services offers transportation, caregiver respite and other essential help. The contact person for this program is Bryan Hildebrand and he can be reached at 360-586-6181, ext. 108.

Always and never never never

Whether you go through an agency or recruit someone yourself, a criminal background check is a must. I also recommend a written contract with a copy of their drivers license and proof of insurance, and salary, hours and duties listed so there can be no misunderstandings farther on down the road.

If you still feel a little unsure about where to start, just dial 211. You will be connected with an information and referral service for your area that can help guide you to the service(s) you want to explore.

Last, but not least, there are a few ‘never do’s’ when hiring this type of help for yourself or family member.

  1. Never, never, never give your bank pin number to your aide.
  2. Never give your car keys to your aide unless you are in the car with them.

 (It is very easy to get copies made of all your keys this way.)

  1. Never leave money, jewelry, credit cards or checkbooks out in plain sight. Dealing with temptation should not be a part of their job.
  2. Never allow your aide to drive your car without you, run a personal errand, borrow it for the weekend, etc.
  3. Never loan your aide money. In this state they are making $15.00 and up per hour – are you? Too often this can become a habit.

When these five simple rules are not followed, I have seen heartbreaking results. And the biggest “never” of all.

    6.  Never forget they work for you…

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


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