Most adult children find that when their parents occasionally need help, they can drop everything and do what’s necessary. Many start running into trouble, however, when assistance is needed on an ongoing basis. The daily demands of caring for an elderly parent can be overwhelming, even in the best of circumstances.
Whether you are in the early stages of helping your parents plan their future or in the midst of single-handedly trying to manage everything for them, it’s important for you to find out what resources are available to help your parents. It is equally important for you to locate and tap into resources to help yourself.
There are several resources to investigate for both periodic and ongoing help for your parents as well as for yourself. These resources include:
Your Family and Your Parents’ Close Friends
Brothers, sisters, or other relatives are the logical people for you to call on for help. Even if siblings cannot always be available physically, their willingness to be involved is a big advantage. If your siblings don’t offer their help, ASK them for it. Be honest about your own needs as well as those of your parents. Also, ask a relative or friend to help by giving you regularly scheduled breaks each week or month.
Adult daycare centers specialize in providing care for the frail elderly, adults who are physically impaired, and/or those with dementia, confusion problems, and Alzheimer’s disease. Adult daycare centers offer health-related and rehabilitative services, social interaction and a variety of activities.
Home Health Care
These services are helpful if your parent needs various levels of nursing care or other professional health services in their home or yours. Home health care services include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, home health aides, and companions, as well as occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and social workers. Your local hospitals, Visiting Nurse Associations and Area Agency of Aging can help you in obtaining the assistance your parents may require. Medicare and health insurance may cover some of these services.
Geriatric Care Managers
If you feel your parents need more care than you are able to give, a private geriatric care manager may be the answer. These professionals can assess your parents’ needs and home situation, then coordinate and monitor the necessary care and services. They work closely with all family members and may be helpful in keeping lines of communication open. Contact the social worker at a hospital near your parents for a referral.
Respite Care Programs
Respite care programs, run by the Council for Senior Citizens in cooperation with other local non-profit organizations, are designed to provide temporary care for an elderly individual in their own home. The purpose of the care is to allow the primary caregiver some short-term relief from day-to-day responsibilities.
These neighborhood centers offer a variety of programs and services for the well elderly. The center’s offerings will vary, but can include inexpensive meals, exercise classes, trips to local museums and events, and many other health, nutritional, educational and recreational activities. See our Senior Center Activities page for a listing of Durham Senior Centers. Visit a center, meet the Director and ask for a copy of the monthly schedule of programs and events.
Your Place of Worship
Local religious organizations often provide dependable volunteers who make home visits.
You need not feel alone as you go through the care giving experience with your family. Many adult children become isolated by their inability to communicate the difficulties they are going through. Support groups will help you learn coping skills and find out about other resources and services available to you and your parents. Contact the Council for Senior Citizens for a listing of Caregiver Support Groups.
Many employers have become aware of the growing number of employees who are providing care for an elder and have developed programs to assist. Check with your company’s human resources department.