Home Care Services for the Elderly

How do we find the medical and social services we need in order to care effectively for my elderly father? He recently suffered a paralyzing stroke, so we've brought him home to live with us. Needless to say, we're desperate for some outside assistance. Where should we look?

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When it comes to finding available services for your aging loved one, it helps to be a good sleuth. A good place to start is the
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, a government-funded agency that coordinates senior programs and services in your region. For more information, visit their website or check the government white pages or information pages of your phone book under “Senior Citizen’s Services.”

In addition, the non-profit National Council on the Aging (NCOA) and America Online, Inc. have recently partnered with several sponsors to begin an online service that identifies all federal and state assistance programs designed for older persons. This is a free program called
Benefits CheckUp that readily and easily helps individuals determine what benefits they qualify for and how to get them in their area. Assistance through this free service includes health care, transportation, income support, legal services, housing, meals and other important services.

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has also established an
Eldercare Locator service. This program taps into a nationwide network of organizations specializing in elder care. It can provide referrals on a variety of topics, including Alzheimer’s hot lines, adult day care, nursing-home assistance, Meals On Wheels, fraud, in-home-care complaints, elder abuse/protective services, and more. The toll-free number to call is 1-800-677-1116.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has state offices and offers free publications on a range of critical issues for older persons and their caregivers. Call 1-800-424-3410 for guides to these publications. AARP’s services include information about insurance, financial matters, tax assistance, legal and disability issues, Legal Services Network, AARP motoring plan, online services, pharmacy service, health-care options, driver education, grandparent information center, outreach support, and care-giving.

As you’re probably already aware, it’s also extremely important to make sure that your dad has a good doctor. If he has a longtime relationship with a physician, you can come alongside both of them to assist in any way you can. A trusting relationship, even a friendship between your father and the doctor, can go a long way in giving you some peace of mind. Your father will need to give his permission for the doctor to discuss his case with you if you do not have power of attorney. If your dad goes to more than one doctor (which is likely), it’s crucial that each one know what the other is suggesting and prescribing. Drug interactions can be dangerous, especially in the elderly, which is why it is important to go to the same pharmacy for all medications so that the pharmacist can flag any potential dangers.

If your father requires hospitalization, keep in mind that you will need to choose a hospital where his primary doctor or specialist has admitting privileges. To make sure you are comfortable with the hospital and trust its reputation, consider asking these questions:

  • Is the hospital accredited by the Does the hospital often treat people with your father’s condition?
  • Are the majority of the hospital staff physicians board certified?
  • Does a clinical pharmacist review physician orders?

For additional help and information on this topic, we’d encourage you to consult the resources and referrals highlighted below. Or if you have relationship concerns and challenges associated with this situation, please don’t hesitate to give our Counseling department a call.


Resources

Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones

Complete Guide to Caring for Aging Loved Ones

Referrals

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Caregiver Action Network


Articles

Caring for Ill or Aging Parents

Excerpted from The Complete Guide to Caring for Aging Loved Ones, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2002, Focus on the Family.

This information has been approved by the Physicians Resource Council of Focus on the Family.

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