Finding eldercare services
How do I find the best home care, assisted living or nursing home provider?
A knowledgeable professional who works in your community is the best source of information on the reputation and quality of a service provider. Geriatric care managers and hospital discharge planners have a great deal of knowledge about the performance of specific agencies in your community. The Eldercare Locator, available on the Eldercare.gov web site is a terrific resource for finding local resources. Other sources of referrals and information are your local Area Agency on Aging and the Medicare website, which includes quality data on nursing homes and Medicare approved home health agencies. In addition, you can learn more about assisted living from the Assisted Living Federation of America.
Legal and Financial Services for Elderly
Eldercare and Medicare - Will Medicare pay for my elder's in-home services?
Medicare pays for very limited home healthcare services: primarily skilled care like nursing services or physical, occupational or speech therapy. It is a requirement that such care help the patient recover function following an illness or hospitalization and only is continued as long as the patient makes progress and is substantially housebound. Medicare will pay for a small amount of help with activities of daily living (such as bathing and eating) for a limited time if the patient also is receiving skilled care. Visit the Medicare website for more information about the Medicare home health benefit.
Public eldercare services - Do I qualify?
Your local Area Agency on Aging or senior center can help you find public support for eldercare services
Public eldercare services - How do I find them?
Some public services, such as using a senior center, are available to all seniors. Many others are available only to those who meet eligibility requirements based on income. Your local Area Agency on Aging employs social workers who can review your eligibility for subsidized services. Even if you qualify for services, you may be placed on a waiting list until funds or space is available. It is a good idea to apply as soon as possible for any benefits you may be eligible for.
Healthcare documents - What do I need?
One of our most frequently asked questions: "As caregiver for my parent (spouse), what type of documentation should I have regarding his/her estate and healthcare wishes?" Everyone should have a basic will, a durable power of attorney and a living will/healthcare proxy statement. We have prepared a special section of Seniorlink Online to tackle this important issue - one of the most frequently asked questions of our care advisory staff.
Should I consult an elder law attorney?
Briefly - it is always wise to consult an attorney regarding wills and trusts because estate and tax laws changes frequently. If an elder is considering applying for Medicaid to pay for nursing home costs and wishes to preserve some assets and income for a spouse or other family members, an experienced elder law attorney should be consulted. Medicaid law is extremely complicated and varies from state to state. You can find an elder law attorney and learn more about things like disability planning, long term care insurance and estate planning by visiting the ElderLawAnswers.com website.
Elder Care Planning
I'm worried that my parent can no longer live alone safely. What can I do?
You should share your concerns with your parent and remain open to considering many possible solutions to this problem, including at-home solutions. Perhaps some help in the house, meal delivery services or an emergency response system could enhance your parent’s ability to continue living at home. You undoubtedly will meet resistance if you insist that s/he immediately move in with you or to an assisted living facility. If our parent is feeing unsafe, s/he may be open to considering a new living arrangement. Unless your parent is in immediate danger, the process of selecing a new home should be a careful process.
My elder needs some help around the house - what services are available?
Where do you turn when you realize your elder needs help with things like homemaking, meal preparation, laundry, and many other key daily life activities? Most communities have lawn service, snow removal and cleaning services readily available for anyone to purchase. The telephone directory is the easiest place to find such help. In addition, local senior centers and Area Agencies on Aging offer services especially for the elderly. Some of these services may be available at no cost or on a sliding fee scale.
My elder is coming home from the hospital or rehabilitation. What can I do to ease the transition?
You should talk to the discharge planner at the hospital/rehabilitation center about the elder’s readiness to come home and what assistance s/he will need. Rehabilitation centers often will send an occupational therapist to the home to help the family understand what equipment or modifications might be needed. Consider what help family members can provide and what help you’ll need to get from others. For example, Medicare will pay for any physical therapy or nursing care the elder needs, but may only provide short-term help with personal care, like bathing or toileting. If you do not feel comfortable helping the elder with personal care, ask the discharge planner or a geriatric care manager for help arranging support services. Usually this type of care must be paid from personal funds.
Family disputes and eldercare - My brothers and sisters and I disagree over how to care for mom. How do we proceed?
A professional who is experienced in caring for the elderly can be of great help in this situation. Oftentimes, these problems arise because siblings see their parent’s needs differently. A geriatric care manager can assess your parent objectively and provide valuable information about what kind of care is best and most realistic under the circumstances.
My elder refuses to accept help. How can I convince him/her?
Most older people refuse help because they feel it will compromise their independence. He is more likely to accept help if it is offered in a way that allows him to make the decisions. Talk over the situation with him; perhaps there are certain tasks that he would appreciate help with, even if they are not the ones you would prioritize. Often, an elder may be concerned about the cost of services. If you can address this issue, perhaps your parent will be more willing. Ultimately, it is important to respect your parent’s right to make his own decisions.
My elder has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Is it possible to care for him/her at home?
Yes, most people with Alzheimer’s disease can be cared for at home. It is essential for you to consider that your loved one may have Alzheimer’s for many years and the disease will gradually worsen. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is a marathon, not a sprint. Find enough help so that you can pace yourself for the long term. Caregivers who are unable to do this burn out or develop their own health problems.
Explore the resources in your community, such as caregiver support groups, adult day health programs, home healthcare and respite services. The Alzheimer’s Association offers support and information through its local chapters, and your local Area Agency on Aging can offer referrals for other support services. You also may consider the services of a geriatric care manager, who can advise you and help arrange the appropriate care for your loved one.