Types of Help Available:
Through Family or Friends
First make a detailed inventory of any
assets individual family members and friends can contribute,
including the assets of the impaired elderly person needing the
care. Assets include available time, skills, space, equipment, the
strengths of the person in need care, and most important money.
down with all the family members (or at least as many as are
agreeable) and work out a plan for giving help. This involves
defining and agreeing upon what tasks will be performed, by whom, on
which days, and so forth. For example, Aunt Martha can cook, Uncle
Peter can mow the lawn and Mary can check on Mom twice a day.
situations may allow for exchanging support services such as the
Caregiver Exchange through Area Agency on Aging. A friend who has
similar caregiver responsibilities may care for both impaired
individuals one day a week in exchange for your providing the care
on another day. Another exchange situation might include making a
spare room available to a college student for his/her help with care
of the care-receiver, in return for free room and board.
When Community Agency Help in Needed:
When family or other volunteer help
is not available or cannot meet your needs, caregivers or
care-receivers may wish to seek help from agencies.
A wide range of
help may be available. Some may be covered by private insurance,
Medicare (and/or a supplemental program of your State). All of it
can be purchased. Sometime the service costs may be based on the
income of the care-receiver. Each agency has its own fee structure;
you may want to ask about their arrangements before ordering the
Types of Services Available to Impaired Elderly
Adult Day Health Care: This is for
people who are physically and/or mentally frail. It offers a range
of therapeutic, rehabilitative, and support activities, including
nursing, rehabilitation, assistance with life activities, social
work services, meals, and possible transportation, provided in a
protected setting for a portion of the day, one to five days a week,
usually during weekdays.
Services: Includes heavy-duty housecleaning, minor home repairs,
yard work, installing safety devices, and winterizing homes.
Companionship Services: Companions
visit isolated and homebound individuals for conversation, reading,
letter writing, and general light errands.
Escort Services for the Elderly:
These services provide personalized accompaniment to service
providers as well as personal assistance.
Geriatric Assessment Units and
Special-Care Units: Specialized geriatric units, both inpatient and
outpatient, exist in some hospitals and medical centers; e.g.,
SOCARE, API They provide coordinated multi-disciplinary diagnostic
services to older patients.
Home Delivered Meals: Some
nutritional programs as well as well as specialized meals-on-wheels
programs offer home delivered meals to the frail, homebound aged.
Subsidized programs ask for voluntary contributions, while others
may require full payment cost for delivery of a hot, well balanced
lunch, and sometimes cold evening meal.
Home Health Aides: Provide personal
care to individuals at home (These services may be covered by health
insurance if ordered by a physician.) Aides assist with eating,
dressing, oral hygiene, bathing, colostomies, administering
medications, etc., as well as light household tasks.
Home Health Care: Organized
programs of nursing, social work, occupational therapy, physical
therapy, and other rehabilitation services to individuals in the
Homemaker Services: Provided by
non-medical personnel, services include shopping, laundry, light
cleaning, dressing, preparation of meals, and escort services on
Homemakers can be of great help in supplementing
help provided by family members, or providing relief when family
caregivers need a break. Homemakers can be secured through in-home
health care agencies, the Area Agency on Aging, the Department of
Social Services, and religious groups and organizations.
agencies provide bonding and training for their homemakers while
others provide only a registry of homemakers' names and phone
numbers, in which case you must thoroughly check references and draw
up a contract for the required services.
Hospital and Surgical Supply
Services: Supply houses rent or sell medical supplies and equipment
like hospital beds, canes, walkers, bath chairs, oxygen and other
equipment. Consult your Yellow Pages.
Housekeeping Services: These
usually include cleaning, shopping, laundry, and meal preparation.
Housing Assistance: Housing
assistance programs exist to help in the search for senior housing,
shared housing, and finding emergency shelters, such as Heartland
Human Relations and Area Agency on Aging.
Nutritional Programs: Congregate
meal programs feed many older adults as a group in a senior center,
community center, or school. A noonday meal is provided, containing
one-third of the recommended USDA dietary allowance, usually for a
voluntary contribution. Additionally, some centers provide
recreational and educational activities.
Occupational Therapy: Occupational
therapy, or OT, is restorative, to enhance or restore skills
necessary for daily living. It should be provide by a qualified
occupational therapist who is referred by your doctor.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy,
or PT, is rehabilitative therapy to maximize mobility. It should be
provide by a qualified physical therapist, usually recommended by
your doctor or hospital.
Respite Care Services: Respite care
programs provide temporary and in some instances up to twenty-four
hour care to give relief to primary caregivers. The care may be
provided in the person's home, at an adult day care center, or other
Senior Service Teams:
Regional/County Mental Health teams working together to provide
mental health screening, needs assessments, and short-term
counseling services to seniors.
Skilled Nursing Services: These
specialized services are provided for specific medical problems by
trained professionals through local home care agencies. Your doctor
must prescribe nursing services.
Speech Therapy: Speech therapy is
provided by a qualified speech therapist to overcome certain speech
and communication problems. The doctor usually recommends this.
Social Day Care: Provide supportive
but not rehabilitative services in a protected setting for a portion
of the day, one to five days a week. Services may include
recreational activities, social work services, a hot meal,
transportation, and occasionally, health services.
Telephone Reassurance: Friendly
telephone calls are provided by agencies or volunteers offering
reassurance, contact and socialization. Telephone reassurance can be
a lifeline for older people who must be left at home alone during
services provide travel by automobile or specialized vans to and
from medical care. Community agencies and service providers such as
Dial-a-Ride, Red Cross Wheels, Cancer Society, and Life Line are but