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Guide to Privately Hiring Senior Home Care

Families of aging seniors are confronted with many choices as they navigate options to help maintain a healthy and productive life for elderly family members.  Home safety, medication management and transportation are key concerns for every family facing the naturally changing capacities seniors face as they age.  In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, one third of seniors aged 65 and over need some assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing and personal hygiene, shopping and preparing meals.

When a family needs senior home care, they are typically faced with complex choices in engaging a home health or senior care giver. The decision to hire a senior home care giver through an agency, or independently, can be challenging. Synthesize all the relevant factors,  and the final result is an informed, and personally relevant, decision that suits the aging adult and his or her family.

When you privately hire, the following tasks are your responsibility:

Many families outsource the background checking and payroll and payroll tax administration to reduce the administrative burden on caregiving family members. Often these services provide turnkey solutions that require some set up and little else.  Private employers will want to secure a service with a long business history, and one that is vetted by an accountant or tax preparer.  As an aside, most tax preparers and accountants recommend these services given the cumbersome paperwork required by the federal and local tax laws.

There are an increasing number of senior home care agencies that provide fully screened and insured care providers for a fee. Agencies that screen and employ senior home care staff do so at a fee that covers covering all employer taxes, insurance, recruiting, training and administrative expenses. One of the key benefits of hiring through an agency is that when unexpected, or planned, caregiver absences occur, the agency can quickly transition a replacement from their inventory of capable workers. The agency charges the family a flat hourly fee that is approximately twice the rate that a caregiver is paid.

Privately employed caregivers can earn 20% more than they would working for an agency, and a family typically spends 20% less than they would through an agency after accounting for employer payroll taxes, insurance and administrative expenses. These higher senior home care wages often result in lower caregiver turnover, especially important to seniors in light of the highly personal nature of the services provided.

Be sure to see additional articles on this site for more information on senior home care, including guides to interviewing, negotiating salaries and scope of work responsibilities, conducting background-checks and tax requirements.

Other Resources:

Companionship Care: Minimum Wage and Overtime by State
Overtime Rules for Senior Caregivers
Payroll for Privately Employed Senior Caregivers

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