Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I hire someone to be my personal aide, or can a family member or friend fill this role? 

A: Many people who use PAs report that allowing someone already close to them to play this role can be fraught with problems. That doesn’t mean that a parent, child, or spouse taking the job guarantees problems, but it will almost necessarily influence the relationship. This is a complex relationship that requires patience and communication. There is a tendency to get caught up in power issues or just plain get tired of too much contact. Sometimes the relationship changes for the better—deeper intimacy and trust and increasing friendship and mutual appreciation.  


Q: Who chooses to be a personal aide? 

A: There is a wide range of possible motives for someone to choose this work. Some PAs find great meaning in helping people who need support to continue living at home rather than in an institutional setting. Workers include students doing part-time work while in school, nurses and aides who work for home health agencies, and good-hearted people who don’t really need the money but are interested in helping. 


Q: Does my employer have to provide me with a personal aide at work? 

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act addresses your rights in the workplace and requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” that allows you to meet the requirements of the job. Personal assistance does not qualify as a reasonable accommodation. It is not something that an employer is obligated to provide, so you would need to make your own arrangements if you need support in the workplace, such as help with emptying your bladder. 


Q: How do I handle correcting or reprimanding my personal aide? 

A: If you need to correct or reprimand your attendant, do it when you are on equal terms with her. You should be seated upright so that you can talk eye-to-eye. Do not try to discuss important issues when you are in the middle of your more intimate care, such as bathing or during bowel and bladder care. That is when you are more vulnerable. The aide may feel he has power over you, and what you have to discuss might not be taken seriously by him. Tell your aide that you are willing to discuss their issues after they are done with your care. Discuss important issues when you are in a comfortable and empowering position. 


Q: How long can I expect a home aide to remain at their job? 

A: I have discovered that my day attendants usually last about 6 months to a year, and my overnight personnel are with me much longer, probably because the day job is more physically demanding. The night job takes someone who can go to sleep, wake up, do a cath, and then go back to sleep.