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how to help my elderly parents

i am blessed with both of my elderly parents. however its starting to present a challenge for me as some of their needs have change. how do i go about getting in care service for them? i think they also have aarp.

AARP Expert

Hello there. I am so glad you are blessed with both your parents still alive and kicking!  I have ideas for you, and as they say in AA, take what you like and leave the rest.


Going from the free to the more expensive,


Try out the government funded web site,, to type in their zip code and find out which area agency on aging serves their neighborhood. Call them or explore their web site and see what they have: meals on wheels? Help with transportation to medical appointments? Respite care services, which give you a break? A senior center where one or both can go and get some social stimulation? Find out what there is and which ones they'd be interested in and try them out.


Enlarge your caregiving circle. Are you an only child? If not, how can your siblings help? Do they have siblings nearby, or even far away but available for phone calls?  One of the tricks of caregiving is to figure out what is needed and then spread out the help. So, say, your mother's younger sister can call her every tuesday morning just to check in. If no one answers the phone, there's a plan b... is there a neighbor who can knock on the door? Family, friends, old colleagues, siblings, grandkids, the more you can recruit the less the 'burden' on any one person (especially you.)  Even people who are far away can pitch in a variety of ways. Get younger grandkids to write them a letter with pictures. Anything can help keep your parents engaged and sharp, entertained and stimulated.


Do they have some money? If they can afford to pay for a companion or home health aide, even for 4 or 6 hours, they can get a lot of assistance from one day a week. If they can bathe themselves, then having an outing for your mom, to go to the library or hairdresser, can give your dad a break. Whatever is needed. Caregivers for hire cost various amounts depending where you are, and you'd most likely want someone trained, screened, and supervised, so something like 100 dollars or more for that one day. But if you find the right personm, its invaluable.


There are a number of other things to consider. Is either or both a Veteran? Do they get some of their care at the VA? Do either or both have a living will? A power of attorney for health care in case one or both can't make a decision about their care (such as a stroke that takes out the speech center...) At some point it might be helpful to hire an eldercare attorney to sort out how much money is available for long term care needs should either or both need nursing home care, or assisted living care.


AARP as a supplement will pick up 20% of the cost of care that Medicare would cover, and unfortunately home care isn't covered by either unless there is a 'skilled need' like PT or an RN following a minimum of 3 days' hospitalization. 


Just some of the things to think about.


Can you be more specific? We have lots of smart folks on this community that can share experiences. Hope any of this is helpful.



social worker and caregiver

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