2005-08-25 / Savvy Senior




My 78-year-old father recently suffered a debilitating stroke. He is recovering slowly but he now needs much more care than mom and I can supply. Do you have some ideas that can help us take care of dad at home?

Overwhelmed Daughter

Dear Overwhelmed,

Caregiving is a tough job that most people don’t ever think about or prepare for until it’s staring them in the face. Fortunately, help is on hand. Here are some great caregiving services and resources you should know about.

Caregiving Services

Knowing what resources are available and who to call for help are invaluable tools for caregivers. Depending on your needs and circumstances, there are lot’s of programs and services that may be able to assist you. The best place to help you locate what’s available in your community is your Area Agency on Aging. Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to get your local agency phone number or visit www.eldercare.gov. Some specific services to ask about are:

• Home and Personal Care: Home care aides can do chores such as cleaning the house, grocery shopping, preparing meals, doing laundry and can provide non-medical help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or using the toilet.

• Home Health Care: Provides health care needs prescribed by a doctor. This includes skilled nursing care, rehabilitative therapy, giving medicine, wound care and medical help.

• Companion Services: Volunteers that make regular visits or phone calls to older adults who can’t get out of the house.

• Transportation: Many communities provide transportation to medical appointments, senior centers, or shopping. These services are usually free, but some may have a small fee.

• Meal Services: Home-delivered meal programs offer nutritional meals to those who can’t shop for groceries, cook or go out to eat. Many senior centers also offer congregate meal services.

• Home Repair and Yard Work: Home repair services can make minor safety changes like in-stalling grab bars, bathing seats in the shower, or ramps for wheelchairs. Free or low cost yard work services may also be available in your community through church, scout or other volunteer groups.

• Adult Day Care Centers: For elderly who need supervised assistance. Adult day care can included health care, recreation, meals and rehabilitative the-rapy in a group setting. While there is usually a cost, many offer sliding rates scales or some financial assistance.

• Respite Care: Provides time off for caregivers. It can be for a few hours or for several weeks and can be provided in the home of the person being cared for, in an adult day center, or at a residential setting such as an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Savvy Fact: More than 44 million Americans serve as caregivers today.

Other Resources

• Family Caregiver Alliance: A nonprofit organization that provides contact information on all caregiver support services and programs in all 50 states. Visit www.caregiver.org or call 800-455-8106.

• Family Caregiving 101: A Web site created by The National Family Caregivers Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving. It provides comprehensive information, resources and support services. Visit www.familycaregiving101.org or call 800-896-3650.

• Geriatric Care Managers: Professionals who help older people and their families identify problems and get needed in-home care and services. A great resource for long distance caregiving. Visit www.caremanager.org or call 520-633-4227.

• Medicare: Provides home health agency compare and nursing home compare services that are very helpful. Visit www.caremanager.org or call 800-633-4227.

• Medicaid: For those eligible, Medicaid may cover home care services, special equipment, supplies, adult day care and more. Contact your state Medicaid office by calling 877-267-2323 or visit www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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