When I began my two decades of elder care, there wasn't much talk about the issue, and what little help was available seemed to be a closely kept secret. Now, caregivers are often faced with the polar opposite. They know there are agencies and businesses that can help them with caregiving issues, but the very abundance of choices can cause a freeze-up in taking action. Where do you start? Or, even harder, where do you start when you are a long-distance caregiver?
One place to start is your local Area Agency on Aging. You can call the state aging services where your elder resides and they will give you the name of the Area Agency on Aging that serves that area. They get creative with names - the one that serves my area is The Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging. A wonderful, visual name, but not one that jumps off your tongue. That's why you'll likely have to check in with the state's aging services department. The National Area Agencies on Aging has a Website at www.n4a.org. It's an excellent site, with good information, however it's geared toward their membership. I'd love a national list of these agencies, but I haven't tracked one down, yet.
An on-line approach to the long-distance or in-area caregiving search is The Eldercare Locator, at http://www.eldercare.gov/ (also listed on the Area Agencies on Aging site at n4a.org).
The Eldercare Locator is free national service of the Administration on Aging. When you get on the site, you are asked to click whether you are a professional, or if the services are for you or a loved one. Then you are taken to a page where you can type in your zip code or city. You will then be led to specific agencies in your area that offer services and the information you need to contact them.
Under "Services Available" you find financial assistance, home health services, home repair, legal assistance, nutrition services, respite care and more. As with all lists of services, it will depend on where you live as to what is available and the quality of the service. I always remind people that even when they find services through an Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator, they need to check references. These agencies help you find care, but they don't monitor the service providers. Getting references, and checking them, is up to the caregiver. It's an important step.
Some downloadable booklets you'll find on the Eldercare Locator site are
"Housing Options for Older Adults: A Guide for Making Housing Decisions" and "Staying "IN TOUCH" in Crisis Situations."
Just by visiting these two sites you'll find a wealth of general caregiving information. The way the Eldercare Locator targets your area is one of its most valuable assets. Check them out and see what they have to offer. It's worth your time.
Published On: November 09, 2007