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Oklahoma City's Visiting Angels franchise provides assistance for elderly

Visiting Angels provides in-home nonmedical care and companionship to people who need some help remaining independent, said Tom Merryweather, the owner of the Oklahoma City franchise.
by Ken Raymond Published: December 11, 2012

•  Are they paying bills on time? Are they keeping up with their mail?

Bear in mind that what's important is behavioral changes. Any one difference may not be significant; medications, for example, can sometimes cause bad breath or odd odors. Multiple changes suggest a higher possibility that a parent needs assistance.

Don't be surprised, Merryweather said, if your parents already are aware they need help. They may not want to initiate a conversation about it for fear of having to leave their home. They may even have sought help on their own.

“There are generally at least a half dozen ads in the newspaper every week from individuals saying, ‘I'm old. I need help. I have money to pay you. Here's my name and number,'” he said. “Someone who's not trained comes in and takes advantage of them. When I go see them, I hear story after story from people saying they were treated poorly or lost $50,000 or had their silverware stolen.”

Visiting Angels and similar organizations run background checks on potential hires. Applicants are subjected to drug tests. Many employees already had a proven track record of working in the home care field before they were hired. Families may meet with and interview care providers to insure a good fit.

Services range from brief visits in the morning or evening to 24-hour live-in care.

The costs are not insubstantial.

“This stuff unfortunately can be expensive,” said Merryweather, who bought his Visiting Angels franchise after deciding to shut down his Chicago insurance agency. “We're charging $17 an hour. Less than that if we do live-in care. That's a daily rate of a couple hundred dollars.

“That's not an easy nut for some people. For a lot of people.”

Set aside some time this holiday season to talk with your parents about what they want and need to remain independent. For those who require it, in-home assistance can be the perfect holiday gift.

by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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