I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this by yourself, and I’m glad you asked. There are resources available! Depending on your parents’ income, they may qualify for one of the state-assistance programs for seniors. These services include things like in-home health aides, skilled nursing care, home-delivered meals, help with cleaning and other chores, transportation, and even counseling. (If your parents don’t qualify, these same programs are available, but the cost may be significantly higher.) Seniorliving.org has a guide to government aid for seniors to help you get started.
Here are some things you can do to find the help they need.
- Look for a senior placement service in their community. This service will help you determine how much and the type of care your parents need, and the best type of living environment for them. When you meet with a representative from the placement company, make sure your parents are included in the meeting and are honest about the things they can’t do for themselves anymore. Sometimes older people aren’t very forthcoming in these conversations because they don’t want their situation to change. You may have to interject if you feel your parents are holding back.
- Search the web for local resources. On aarp.org you can find “Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families,” which has information on how to have difficult conversations with older family members, determine the level of care needed, and locate resources. Eldercare.acl.gov connects older Americans and their caregivers with local support resources, based on zipcode. A third option is ncoa.org, which has a list of community programs and services for the elderly.
- Talk to others. Ask your friends, neighbors, religious leader, or doctor for help. They can be excellent resources, especially if they’ve already been through a similar situation.
Help is out there if you know where to look. I hope these resources make life easier for your parents, and ultimately for you as well!