Friday, June 26, 2009

Finding Local Services

My day at the Triangle Caregivers Conference in Raleigh, NC, gave me some time to think about how caregivers might gather the information they need more quickly, especially when it comes to locating local services. As a caregiver, what might you be seeking?
  • Medical Facilities and medical professionals for your parent's health.
  • In-Home Services so that your parent can remain in her home longer.
  • Home-related information so that your parent can keep his home in good repair.
  • Housing options for the time when your parent can no longer live alone or wishes to lighten his responsibilities through a different living situation.
  • Long-term Care Facilities, including assisted-living and nursing homes.
  • Financial Counseling which might include discussions of reverse mortgages, budgeting, estate planning
  • Legal Services for living wills, advance medical directives, powers of attorney
  • Geriatric Care Management to assess your parent's needs so that you can arrange the best services.
You can see that there are many areas of concern. As a caregiver, you won't need to deal with them all at once, but over time, you will touch on each of these areas and need to explore possibilities and options.

What works best is to find those organizations and agencies where your parent lives that do a first information gathering for you. Gathering contact information about local resources is what these groups do for a living, so they are the experts. Once you've identified these "gatherers", you can return to them each time you have a decision to make. So who are these gatherers?

We've already talked about the value of a caregivers conference, especially where local service providers are exhibiting. Look for workshops, conferences, gatherings where the community comes together to present services.

Use an Eldercare Referral Service. Your employer may have access to one of these through your Employee Assistance Program. Many are fee-based groups that locate providers and services for you. Often the services and providers pay to be listed, so the cost to you is minimal. However, the best place to start is the US Government's Eldercare Locator. It's free and once you explain the type of serivce you're seeking, they can get you started.

Find the local Area Agency on Aging. The AAAs were created by Federal law in 1965 to provide support and services to older Americans. With the 2001 reauthorization of the Older American's Act came a new initiative, the National Family Caregiver Support Law. Area Agencies on Aging now have the responsibility to plan, provide and coordinate multifaceted systems of support services specifically designed to support caregivers. Contact them to see if they have a list of resources or can guide you in the right direction.

Hook up with the AARP and its local branches. The AARP website is full of information on caregiving and the local branches keep track of local services. Check the website or call the national office (1-800-424-3410) to find the local group.

Non-Profit Resource Gatherers. I've found that dedicated, local non-profit or government groups are often the most diligent and most helpful when it comes to guiding you to resources. In the North Carolina Triangle where I live, for example, a non-profit group named Resources for Seniors publishes a comprehensive directory of services in Wake County; in Orange County, two counties over, the county government provides a listing of resources in that county. Check the Senior Centers, call your public library, ask around as you arrange for other services, search the web. Local caregiving circles are fairly small and you'll be able to locate these gatherers fairly quickly.

So, find the information gatherers in your parent's community. Bookmark their websites, put them on speed dial:
  • Local Caregiver Conferences
  • Eldercare Referral Services, especially the Government's Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116,
  • Local Area Agency on Aging, Caregivers Support
  • AARP
  • Local non-profit information gatherers
If you have any other suggestions of information "gatherers", let us know. Have a wonderful day!

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