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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Monday, January 26, 2009

Eldercare Issues: Beware of FREE referral, placement, and directory services: They are not really free

During these tough economic times, more and more stressed caregivers are gravitating to the web for help and guidance. With the plethora of "free" internet referral, placement, and on-line directory services for families in search of eldercare products and services such as homecare and assisted living, it is important to know exactly how these services make their money and how it might affect you and your loved one in the end.

Yes, they do provide their service to you at no charge; however the service providers that they refer you to pay them for their services. Since most employees of these "free" services work on a commission basis, it stands to reason that most will refer to providers who have agreed to pay the "free" agency a fee for your information rather than the provider that offers the services that best suit your loved one's needs.

Typically, these "free" service providers are only interested in assisting families that can afford to pay privately for eldercare and at best send a cursory response referring people to their local Area Office on Aging office if they are not "financially" qualified. The "free" services that assist families regardless of their ability to pay, sadly, are the exception, not the norm.

There are also a host of listing or directory services which are actually lead generation services for senior care providers. They ask questions directly related to your care needs, finances and geographical requirements and then in turn "broker" your information to providers that pay them for your contact details. One overwhelmed caregiver that completed one of the online questionnaires on the web site of a leading provider of qualified lead generation/listing services, received 16 telephone calls in a 30-minute time frame from a variety of eldercare service providers who had paid this listing "broker" for her information. Not only was she barraged by the calls, but also it happened at work since she included her work phone.

So, "buyers beware" ……. be sure to read the fine print on these web sites so you are prepared to deal with the "cost" of utilizing these so called "free" services. 



  1. I used one of the free services that you describe and it was a nightmare. I had people calling me for weeks. I never gave my permission to have all of these different companies calling. What made it worse, was they were calling my house speaking with my mother (who had no idea that I was looking to admit her to a nursing home)and then calling me at work. They were relentless.

  2. I called one of the free services available on the web. I had to call them 3 times before anyone was available to help me. Their help consisted of giving me a phone number and a web site of a placement service in the city I needed a housing situation for my loved one. Not a very good FREE service.

    Avery H.

  3. When I filled out the online request form for a free referral service I had no idea that they would sell my name and information to a dozen different companies. I checked off several categories of interest expecting to get an email brochure, instead I was bombarded with phone calls. What makes it worse is my mother has been deceased for 4 months and they still keep calling. What a horrible experience.

  4. I too received call from different homes up until a year after my father died. It was difficult dealing with the initial grief let alone reliving it for almost a year. You'd get a call out of the blue and it would hit you like a brick all over again.

  5. Phone calls after someone has deceased is a terrible thing. I am not sure that working with a service that is free would be a bad thing, I just think you should be selective about any web site that ask for your personal information.

  6. There are free services that do a great job indeed. The caution is in knowing who is behind the organization and where your information goes once it is entered on their web site.

  7. How do you know where your information goes?


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